Lately, a number of beginning or returning students have asked,"Where do I begin? I feel so stuck."
I usually try to talk them through a logical process of elimination. After all, you can't put every idea into every painting. Let's boil it down to the message of this painting only. Let's put those other ideas which are inconsistent, or which dilute the main idea, into a sketch book of ideas for later. What constitutes a "painting idea"?
But sometimes that process doesn't work. Some artists freeze up when confronted with the request for logic. Sometimes one needs a new direction. Or to express something that can't be said in the style or with the medium or with the subject matter one has been using.
And those are the times I suggest that artists just dive in. Don't allow time for conscious thought. Just grab the first thing near you, and turn it into something different. A sewing store with a sale on zippers, a hardware store with a great assortment of sandpaper, or that beautiful foil candy wrapper from that 70 o/o dark chocolate bar you've just eaten in your frustration can guide you in an unexpected and new direction.