Input

Circles...

Thinking about circles as symbols of wholeness and completion. Thinking about what my life will look like on the other side of this break.

Thinking about things fractured and things connected, things broken and things whole. Thinking about how we live in increments of now: moments, days, decades. But the beauty is in these moments as a whole. 

Yes, these separated moments could stand on their own, but what happens when we put them all together? 
A more complete and powerful picture emerges.

Go get some inspiration.

I'm a die-hard believer that inspiration isn't something we must wait for while sitting on our hands until it comes. We can go out and get it. 

Take note of those things that spark inspiration and ideas. And return to them faithfully. This is the magic of Cameron's "artist dates" and the magic of the creative process in general.  

Shots from a recent trip to gather inspiration. Oh how my mind danced! 

 

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More Watering...

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It has something to do with being empty: these moments when we are supposed to be creating and yet we just can't bring ourselves to do it. When all our creative energy is required by life before we can devote any to the canvas, and then we wake up one day and the well is dry dry dry...

 

We've had a series of minor complications that seem to have completely knocked me out of flow. I'm supposed to be back in the studio slinging paint yesterday but I'm sitting in a big pile of don't wanna.

 

This is going to take more watering than I thought.

How to hunt and gather inspiration.

hunt The earliest artists were hunter-gatherers, and seriously? So are we.

They moved from meadow to meadow, terrain to terrain. Their pace followed the seasons, a different practice in the summer than in the winter. They stored up for times of hunger, adjusted as fields became fallow and as fruit became scarce. They understood drought, moving as water and weather took them.

Like them, we can't grow our own creative sustenance—those things that inspire and drive us. We have to go after it, gather it, and store it. We have always been and will always be hunter-gatherers. Thomas Merton said, "The imagination needs time to browse." So give yourself permission to browse, to wander around for the creative fodder you need.

To maximize your creativity, you must rely on a variety of sources:

  • Go on creative inner-pilgrimages to foreign artists' styles, or use foreign writing prompts.
  • Chase down the wildest color schemes or hunt down the secret to the golden mean in photography.
  • Look for inspiring input in "remote" places you've never visited: different books, galleries, forms of poetry.
  • Brave the unfamiliar terrain of new tools and techniques: software, plot style, composition techniques, etc.
  • Try new foods: take a course, read a new textbook, enroll in a class.
  • Explore your curiosities and questions! "[The artist] opens himself up to all influences—everything nourishes him. Everything is gravy to him, including what he does not understand—particularly what he does not understand." Henry Miller

I'd also recommend considering a seasonal or monthly (or moon-cycle) approach to gathering inspiration:

  • Which seasons yield the most inspiration? (Winter is beautifully introspective for me, summer is too busy.)
  • Focus on a certain creative input for a month then cycle to a fresh field of fodder the next month.
  • Choose themes or color schemes based on the weather and the season, letting nature guide you.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo or participate in a similar challenge for visual artists.
  • Set a creative goal for the season or the year, and see how far you can get with it. (My goal = 200 paintings. Due to an unforeseen serotonin drought this winter, I don't think I'm going to make it...)

Go after inspiration like our hunter-gather predecessors. Feed that starving inner-artist, and she will have the energy and vitality you need in order to live out your creative dreams.

A gentle word of caution: Those courses on marketing and social media are not necessarily creative fodder... While they do help you understand the business side of creativity, they don't invest in the creative side of your soul. When you consider courses and classesartist, look for experiences that will enrich your *creative process* not your *business process.* I know we have to live in both worlds, but the one that stirs your soul and raises your voice the world is your *creative process.* Focus on feeding your starving inner-—she probably doesn't wake up in the morning craving marketing strategies, she craves the sweetness of inspiration! Give it to her. Regularly.

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How you can force creative inspiration...

muse headline Y’all are going to think I’m crazy. Force inspiration?

But I *know by experience* that it can be done. The pursuit of my creative dreams depend on this.

And so does yours.

You can force inspiration by creating a list of regular wells that you draw from. You already know these wells, you just may not have realized it: They spark your brain and give you that "OOH I wanna go create something!" feeling.

Otherwise, we are fatigued and feel little motivation and usually end up flipping through the internet or wandering around aimlessly.

Who has time to wait for the muse???

What makes a good well of inspiration? Easy access, immediate resonance, inspires you to action, fuels you with ideas.

You know these wells, you already have them. Now you get to use them strategically!

I'll give you some of go-to wells of inspiration:

  • Pinterest, after tweaking incoming boards and pins. (Quiet the noise, y'all.)
  • My favorite artists' online galleries. (I want to be like them when I grow up.)
  • Mixed Media digital magazines. (Ideas ideas!)
  • Podcasts and how-to-videos. GREAT place for ideas!
  • Gasp: My own work. (Sometimes I can flip through my own pages and my brain goes “oh remember how fun this is!?” and I’m right back in the groove.)
  • The right kind of music. (Naturally, my music-of-choice depends on the mood.)

So, what are some of your go-to wells of inspiration? Share some here, and plan to visit them the next time you're feeling a little low on inspiration.

...because we don't have time to wait for the muse.

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