I have been taking a course with Karen Ruane (see side bar for link) this fall and the focus has been on sampling.
We began with making a collage of colours, images and possibly items (stamps or nails or threads) that would be of personal interest.
Out of these came streams of ideas to develop a library of techniques in combination with each other. My classmates have been making terrific collections whereas I have remained mostly in the beginning stages.
It turned out that the attention span needed to create a bunch of small samples just wasn't working for me, but I gave it a try.
I can see that having a record of ideas is a valuable tool, much like a well stocked pantry. My studio time is too hard to come by and I feel a need to make every minute count one way or another. Once in a while reading a novel fits into this, usually when I am very, very tired.
But on the whole, I have so many things that need attention that making small samples falls to the bottom of the list.
As I worked on them, many ideas did come to me, but they felt like distractions, not new directions. The course nears its end, I have decided to not continue this effort.
As Karen has said, if I ever feel in need of inspiration,
I can return to these six samples to get the juices flowing.