On Finding Inspiration

Where do you look most often for creative inspiration?

Use your curiosity to guide your search for inspiration. Take a look around you. What do you see that interests you? It may be something beautiful, funny, or unique. Or maybe you use another sense instead, like the way a plant smells, or the sound of the wind through leafless treetops. Think about why this inspires you. Is it the colour, the textures, the way it interacts with its surroundings? Take note. This is a good starting point for creating works that you are connected with. 

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“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” - Mark Rothko

Inspiration is a critical part of the creative process. It adds meaning and emotion. It helps create depth. Without it, a work could be technically beautiful but still lack a feeling of connection. It is the artist's job to use their works to convey ideas or instigate reactions beyond a simple comment on how well painted or written it is.

If this sounds daunting, realize that you probably already do this without thinking about it. Most creatives find inspiration intuitively. This week, try this exercise. Flip through a magazine and cut out any images that you are immediately drawn to. You could also create a Pinterest board or go out and take photos. Now look at these images critically, and see if there are any themes or commonalities. Taking some time to think about these themes might be useful for honing in on your creative energy and guiding your artistic practice.

This week, I went out to take pictures of my surroundings to try out this exercise. 

One thing that I'm continually drawn to for inspiration is patterns in nature, especially in flowers. I like watching them unfold, completely in tune with the changing seasons. I appreciate the impermanence of their life cycle; even one day can change if a flower is still around or not. There is such a limited time to be able to enjoy their blooms, that as humans we seem so drawn to capturing their essence. I like finding the places where humans have used this inspiration to inform design.

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Inspired by the impermanence of the nature that surrounds me. 

Inspired by the impermanence of the nature that surrounds me. 

How each artist uses a similar inspiration is fascinating; each individual adds their own style, whether intentional or not. Painting classes I've been a part of illustrate this beautifully. Using the exact same palette of colours and the same photo as a starting point, each artist in a class of ten will create completely unique pieces. I really enjoy taking new art classes and workshops to see how different artists work around the same guidelines.

The important thing is for you, as an artist of any medium, to put your spin on your work. Make it yours and own it. Let your awesome individuality shine through and you will be golden.