My dear friend Carolyn Autenrieth asked fellow artist friends to reflect on the role of inspiration in their work for her high school art class. So I wrote out some ideas in my journal this morning. While this may be too long for what she’s needing, it’s the perfect length for a blog post.
A few weeks ago, I made this inspiration board on my phone ~ a visual reminder of things that I find beautiful. The images could be of anything, not necessarily art.
I took screen shots of my Pinterest boards and wrote down words that inspire me. What do I love? What are ideas, objects, symbols, activities, places, hobbies that make me feel alive? It could be anything that makes me feel the whole hearted joy of my daughter in this picture. Seeing these images and words together, I started to notice common themes, in terms of colors, ideas, textures, and design elements that I’m drawn to.
So pay attention to your attention, because it’s trying to tell you something. There’s something here that you love. What is it? What’s with all the doors? Why do I love rust so much? Why do I feel drawn to the textures and design found in nature. Sometimes the answers are obvious. Sometimes I don’t discover until much later why I find the texture of tree bark or aerial landscapes so compelling.
Some people might not see the beauty in these images…but to me, they’re exquisite! I want to make art that makes me feel the way I feel when I look at my board. This is what inspires me. And when I’m inspired, I feel creative…and the work starts flowing.
It all begins with inspiration.
The whole goal of art is to create something that is unique to you. So your job as an artist is to get really clear about what you love and why. From there, making art is just a series of Yes/No decisions. When you’re clear about what inspires you, it will come across in your work. And people will be able to feel it. Even if they don’t personally find rusty doors beautiful, they will feel my love of the door coming through in the painting. And that, to me, is the beauty and power of art.
Creating this inspiration board made me deeply consider what I find beautiful. And then, I set it aside. The next day, I pulled out some paper and just decided to paint something that brings me joy. I had no plan, no end goal in mind.
A couple hours later, this painting emerged. And I could clearly see elements from my board coming through.
Notice what brings you joy.
Get clear about what you love, and why.
Make art that makes your heart sing.
Remember that inspiration is everywhere.