EXPLOITS: The Idea Book

Idea Book

Hundreds of potential paintings

My paintings come from visionary experiences. At the most random moments, I am suddenly shown a picture, an image of a painting I need to create. These visions usually come with titles, dimensions for the canvas, and maybe of bit of insight into their meaning.

Usually it takes a longer gestation period before their true significance becomes apparent. The visions are like dreams, in that what appears is full of  symbolic connotations which take some meditation to grasp.

I’ve been reading about eidetic memory, the mysterious ability to recall incredibly detailed information later on. Retaining the strange imagery that jumps out of my imagination seems to be my idiot savant version of this trait. Apart from painting ideas, my memory is terrible.

Since the end of 2009, I’ve been jotting down the ideas in a notebook and dating them. I do this instead of making sketches. It only takes a title and maybe a brief line of description to recall the fully articulated vision to my mind.

Sometimes the ideas hit me while at I’m at my job. Since my book lives in the studio, what I do is get the idea down on a post-it note and stick it into the journal when I get home.

CoverThe journal’s cover features writers and quotations, but it is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so it’s appropriate for paintings. My favorite quote is from George Bernard Shaw: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?'”

The first entry is dated 12/24/09; it must have been a Christmas gift opened early.

Whenever I want to start a new painting, if I don’t have a specific one in mind already, I pull out this book and read through the listings. The associated imagery plays through my mind like a slide show. I look for one that really resonates with my intuition and get to work.

Later I might go back and note dates the painting was actually begun or completed, where it showed, if it sold. I’m not too consistent about this because the book is more about capturing the unfolding of new projects than record keeping paperwork.

For instance, here is a page from 2012:


Some of these have been made, some haven’t. This one I was excited about, and I had a deadline, because I started it almost right away:

“2/27 The Night of Wonders-1700’s telescope with sky full of wheels and devices begun 3/3/12 done 6/12”

This was the resulting painting:


Richard Bledsoe “The Night of Wonders” acrylic on canvas 36″ x 18″

This piece ended up as my contribution to a group show I curated at our gallery Deus Ex Machina in July 2012: “Alien Technology II,” a commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Roswell Incident.

I counted up the scribbled lines currently included in my idea book. There are almost 250 paintings visualized in there. The most recent entry was added today.

While I am a productive painter that keeps multiple in-progress pieces on hand,  I will never live long enough to create all the painting visions I’ve had. And the list of potential paintings keeps getting longer.

The best I can do is trust I will always recognize which painting is the next one that needs to be done.


“…The Stuckist doesn’t strive-which is to avoid who and where you are-the Stuckist engages with the moment.”

The Stuckists Manifesto



11 thoughts on “EXPLOITS: The Idea Book

  1. Great ideas Richard! I was watching Art Beat on PBS and this clay artist looks through magazines and cuts out things she sees with other ideas and that forms her basic start. As an intuitive I just start.

  2. That’s a great thing about being an intuitive artist, you never know what will trigger the next idea. I had a painting vision once when I noticed a pine tree in the background of an episode of Columbo

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