April 2017 Connect + Create: inspiration

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spiders web.”
Pablo Picasso
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

The theme for this month is: inspiration

Inspiration… breathing in. The very stuff of life. During this time of year, we go outside and one of the great joys is to breath in the sweet, warm, fragrant air! What pleasure there is in this simple act. We unfurl, like the ferns in the garden. Our senses are awakened after a long winter.
Inspiration can come in many forms, as Picasso says above, from ‘all over the place’. This reminds me of a story. I was working on my encaustic painting for the Death Perceptions show just about a year ago, and was really stuck. I didn’t know what would go in the area to the right of the pendulum. Days turned into weeks and – as this area represented the future, the unknown, the great mystery of death, I was stumped. I tried various things and they were all contrived and wrong, so I scraped them away. Then one day, much like today, I was out walking in the rainy woods and my eye lit upon a branch. Nothing special, a flat, ordinary, yet a beautiful and perfect branch. Immediately, I knew that was it! How did I know… not sure. Something about it spoke to me, inspired me, and it felt like a key turning in a lock. An AHA! moment. The branch spoke to the unknown, the various possibilities that are inherent in the mystery of what happens when we die. It spoke to me of the mystery of life. Sometimes we have have to wait, as I did, with faith that the inspiration will come. Sometimes we actively seek it out. As Grace Coddington says below, ‘Always keep your eyes open’.
So inspiration is closely connected to seeing. We need to be always looking, noticing what is around us, seeing the shape in the shadow, the beauty in the colour of the sky and the tracing of the branch in the forest against the snow. Open to possibility, we cast our net widely, and everything can be an inspiration. Or anything.
Truly, inspiration comes from dreams, conversations, glimpses from the corner of your eye… when we are ‘tuned in’ in this way, the world around us ‘offers itself to our imagination’ as Mary Oliver would say (from Wild Geese, my favourite poem of all time.)  She goes on to say that it ‘calls to us, like the wild geese, harsh and exciting’. Yes, sometimes the inspiration is found in the shadows of our psyche, and it’s not something that we can control. We respond to what moves us, and to find this, we really need to be paying attention.  This is why so many of us like to carry around a notebook or journal, so that we can write down that random comment, quote, etc. Our phones have become portable ‘inspiration gathering devices’, as it is easy these days to capture the light, image, quote or colour with the press of a button. If we notice closely, we will see a thread of connection between the seemingly unrelated elements. In that connection is the juicy beginning of a new piece, or a new series.  I truly think that it is a magical confluence of synchronicity and awareness that inspires my creative practice.
Let’s talk about this!  Looking forward to hearing what inspires you… please feel free to share your stories of inspiration with us here.

detail with branch

  • What inspires you?
  • Do you have a story to share about a time you were inspired? Tell us about it!
  • Does what inspires you change over time?
  • Is there a time during the process when your inspiration fades?
  • If so, what do you do at that time?
  • How is your breath connected to the process of painting?
Below are some more quotes to inspire you…

“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.” Leonardo Da Vinci

“Inspiration comes of working every day.”  Charles Baudelaire

“You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Kafka

“Go where the silence is and say something.” Amy Goodman

“Always keep you eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” Grace Coddington

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Picasso

“Painting is dancing with chaos.” Melanie Circle

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” Salvador Dali

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-ming, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. ”  Eckhart Tolle

“i am an Artist. i paint with my fingers, texture makes me happy, i love drippage…. building layers tells my story. i experience colour. i make mistakes beautiful. i see what others cannot. i live inspired. ”  Donna Downey

7 thoughts on “April 2017 Connect + Create: inspiration

  • Such a great idea Andrea and I will definitely be following along to see what you C & C’s are exploring in The Hive! Thinking of all of you….Penny Brown

    • Hi Penny,
      Glad that you will be following along – let us know your thoughts and ideas on the themes as they come up… you have a great way of articulating your thoughts on creativity!
      Creatively yours,

  • Inspiration comes from everywhere. Storytelling is often inspiring and a verse or story can set off that intuition. However, I am working hard to temporarily set aside more and more detail and trying to use encaustic most effectively in minimalist/abstract ways… a real challenge for me. Yes, to natural things. I have small pieces of driftwood that are polished from years of carrying around knowing the right piece will need them! Inspiration can be difficult to turn off at bedtime, so I have to put out some braking mechanism a little while before. Sometimes the inspiration comes then I must decide if it is a painting, photograph or poem working to become. Concepts and narrative often inspire my work. I fell in love with encaustic and am still becoming comfortable with it and seeking to settle down from the myriad of routes to take. One (or at least only two or three) series at a time! I just discovered your FB page and your blog. Thank You!

    • Hi Paula,
      So interesting to realize that form multi-disciplinary artists, that the inspiration must go through another filter to decide what it will become! Is this process straight-forward, or does it take awhile to know which it will be… a painting, poem or photograph? Do these overlap, e.g. photograph in encaustic/transferred?
      Thanks for sharing,

      • Not always though! Some things just pop up and you know – or at least I’m learning to know. I think it just takes some focus and sometimes it is both. I have used my poetry within an encaustic piece and, yes, I have used photos. I am very visual so even it it is NOT a painting, the poetry is full of images. It is double fun if I can use both together. As I said, I am still getting acquainted with encaustic! So trying to perfect one technique at a time – sorta!

  • I agree that inspiration comes from always looking at the world around us, and within us, with open eyes and open heart. When I hear people “waiting for inspiration” before they – paint, dance, write – whatever, I have to say for them “Just get to it”.

    Inspiration is the dance of the creative soul with life. It is an active motion, not something dormant and waiting to spring, but more of an ebb and flow – aways moving.

    When it has ebbed, do not shelter your studio door. Now is the time to work. This is where “studio practice” comes into play. Go into out into the world and see with all of your senses. Delve deep into your supply stashes. Colour mix to your heart’s content. Move and breathe and the inspiration will start to flow. The synapses will start to fire.

    Never give up <3 🙂

    • Hi Bethany,
      Great to hear from you! I agree with you (and Picasso) that inspiration “has to find you working”. Nicely put in your comment about moving and breathing in the studio, and it will flow. This is true for me as well. Playing is a big part of firing up inspiration, and thanks for reminding us of that!
      Warmly, Andrea

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