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A hand holds out a small black box with golden lettering, Oblique Strategies, with art supplies and drawings strewn across the hardwood floor in the background.

Exploring Artistic Inspiration with Oblique Strategies

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Art Toolkit Team

Prompts | March 09, 2023

Over the past fifteen weeks, we created art using prompt cards from the Oblique Strategies card deck.

Oblique Strategies is a unique deck of cards with prompts intended to break creative blocks and encourage lateral thinking. In the 1970s, artist Peter Schmidt and musician Brian Eno came up with a deck’s worth of imaginative lines that offered solutions to the blocks that they encountered in their daily, creative lives. This autumn and winter, we shared these thought-provoking tidbits in our newsletter and across our social media platforms as an invitation to explore artistic inspiration in them.

A sketch of a blue lemon next to a real-life yellow lemon.


Use an unacceptable colour

A messy Pocket Palette, pans, water brush, and eraser lie on a tabletop.


Tidy up

A prompt card atop a piece of watercolor paper painted a rich purple with a creme colored paper poking in the frame.


Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place

Three differently-colored paintings of the same lighthouse lined up on a purple backdrop.


Use filters

An open sketchbook with a blackberry leaf sketch with varying line weight, a prompt card, Pilot Parallel Pen, and a real leaf subject.


What to increase? What to reduce?

An artist holds up two paintings, one drawn with pen then watercolor and the other painted then contoured with pen.


Look at the order in which you do things⁠

A prompt card atop a piece of watercolor paper with blooms of pinks, purples, and blues.


Once the search is in progress, something will be found⁠

A prompt card surrounded by a colorfully painted frame with a watercolor palette and paintbrush beside it.


Decorate, decorate

A prompt card and a small paintbrush lie atop two water landscapes, one from a distance and one zoomed in.


Only a part, not the whole

Splattered paint next to a paint palette with a purple mix in the lid.


Slow preparation..Fast execution

An Art Toolkit held up next to a doorknob.


Go outside. Shut the door

A painting of an evergreen forest next to a Demi Palette, turned sideways.


Turn it upside down

Monochromatic penguins painted using distinct negative space.


Simple subtraction

A sketch of a vibrant orange bird with gestural paint and precise pen outlines.


Work at a different speed

A sketchbook with a lemon, lemon sketch, paint brush, and two prompt cards (Use and unacceptable colour and Reverse) rests on the floor with palettes, props, and sketches around it.



Big thanks to Maria Coryell-Martin and Nakaia Macomber-Millman for lending their artistic talent to these prompts and to Peter and Brian for coming up with such an interesting deck of cards—they really made us think!