Taking classes is always fun and a great opportunity to learn something new. There's nothing like a 5-day workshop, though, to really get the new ideas flowing.
I just recently returned from such a workshop with quilt artist, Sue Benner. Check out her web site at www.SueBenner.com (That's her standing at the table in front of the group.) We had a great time learning how to abstract a design. Everyone felt like they were struggling but we had some really lovely work come out of the whole group. With 5 days to delve into the nuts and bolts of abstracting, we all came away with a lot of new skills to draw upon in the future.
Here's a sample of our very first exercise. Sue randomly handed us a page torn out of a magazine and we were instructed to use 5 fabrics we had on hand to recreate the picture, in 20 minutes! As you can see, mine is still fairly objectively realistic, but abstracted nevertheless. It was a really helpful assignment to work the picture down into its basic elements. I would do this again, with one of my own photos, before I started my next design. Try it. It's a lot of fun!