Nate Moore.jpg

Folded Airplanes by Nate Moore


  1. Students will be able to create a sketchbook.
  2. Students will be able to learn how to generate ideas.
  3. Students will use the discussed methods to generate ideas for their first project.

Essential Question:

How do artists generate ideas? (these can be used to do anything, not just art)

  • inspiration
  • brainstorming
  • thumbnail sketching
  • meditating

Use your passions and interests to drive your creativity! Whether its sports, dance, technology, friends, music, or games any interest you have will make great subject matter for works of art.

The principle behind a brainstorm is that one idea leads to another, and another, and another. A mindmap is simply a page where you write down all your ideas as they pop into your brain, arranging the words around the page. A way of grouping similar ideas together and putting down further thoughts an idea generates. It's an ideal approach to the daily painting ideas.
Start writing anywhere on a page, putting down the key idea or concept, then put a circle around it. (In my mindmap shown in the photo, this was the word "Journeys".) Now write down the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the concept. Don't censor yourself, don't reject some ideas as "bad" and try for further "good ideas". You'll weed out the more useful ideas later. At this stage, your task is simply to write the first thing that comes to mind, then the next, and the next.
If ideas are related, group them together. If they're different, write each down in a separate section of the piece of paper. There is no right or wrong way to arrange your mindmap; do what works for you. Put each idea in a circle, or a square, star, picture frame, whatever. Group ideas together.

At a surrealist rally in the 1920's Tristan Tzara the man from nowhere proposed to create a poem on the spot by pulling words out of a hat. A riot ensued and wrecked the theatre. Andre Breton expelled Tristan Tzara from the movement and banned the cut ups.

In the summer of 1959 Brion Gysin painter and writer cut newspaper articles into sections and rearranged the sections at random. Minutes To Go resulted from this initial cut up experiment. Minutes To Go contains unedited unchanged cut ups emerging as quite coherent and meaningful prose.

The method is simple. Here is one way to do it. Take a page. Like this page. Now cut down the middle and cross the middle. You have four sections: 1 2 3 4 ... one two three four. Now rearrange the sections placing section four with section one and section two with section three. And you have a new page. Sometimes it says much the same thing. Sometimes something quite different--(cutting up political speeches is an interesting exercise)--in any case you will find that it says something and something quite definite. Take any poet or writer you fancy. Heresay, or poems you have read over many times. The words have lost meaning and life through years of repetition. Now take the poem and type out selected passages. Fill a page with excerpts. Now cut the page. You have a new poem. As many poems as you like. As many Shakespeare Rimbaud poems as you like. Tristan Tzara said: "Poetry for everyone." And Andre Breton called him a cop and expelled him from the movement. Say it again: "Poetry is for everyone."

Thumbnail Sketching
Thumbnail sketches are rough drawings, sometimes only comprehensible to the designer/artist. These quick pen or pencil sketches allow the designer to try out several ideas and zero in on the most likely layouts before beginning a project. Creating thumbnail sketches is a crucial part of the brainstorming aspect of your design work. Don't discount the value of this step in the design process.



Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and/or enhance personal and spiritual growth.

  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, or in a straight-backed chair with your feet on the floor, or lie down. If seated, close our eyes gently; if you lie down, deep your eyes slightly open.
  • Set an alarm. Try meditating for between 12 and 20 minutes.
  • Concentrate on your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils, or on the rise and fall of your belly.
  • When thoughts, feelings, or sensations arise, don’t try too hard to push them away. Mentally acknowledge them, but then try to concentrate anew on your breathing.
  • Don’t forget to have something to take notes on close by in case inspiration strikes.

Here are more ways artists generate ideas.

Art is a Process

planning-brainstorming, thumbnail sketches

rough drafts-sketches with details or focus on particular parts

reflecting/critiquing-looking at your work by yourself or others to see how it can be improved, sleeping on it, making notes

creating-making a version as practice and to learn from mistakes

revising-taking all of the information and applying it to your work

finishing-making the final piece of work