Where I Find Inspiration For My Art

I am often asked what inspires me as an artist.

The answer? Everything. Ok, that’s probably a small exaggeration, but I really do find inspiration just about everywhere.

First of all, what does “inspiration” actually mean? We often toss this word around with such familiarity, when we might want to pause for a moment to make sure that we are clear on the meaning. Here’s a pretty simple definition:

“The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”

So, another way this loaded, probing question could be stated is “What stimulates you to create?” While the list feels rather endless, after much thought and deliberation, I picked three to focus upon for this post.

Beauty-- Ah yes. Beauty. Yes, this may seem rather cliche, but let me explain myself. Visually, I’m drawn to a certain kind of beauty. Sometimes, it’s very common (sunsets, two people walking hand in hand, a child exploring, rolling hills and wildflowers) and other times, it’s very subtle and hidden. It might be a dilapidated building in the middle of a field that strikes others as an eye sore, not something beautiful. It might be a dead tree, a really gross fungus on some rocks or Lucas giving me his best tantrum to desperately communicate his point. Yes, I find those things beautiful. I may not paint those things specifically. I may paint none of it, but the beauty I see in all those images inspires me to respond in kind with my own creation of beauty. Beauty compels me. It truly stimulates me to act and make. And because I know that beauty inspires me, I seek it out. I know it’s always there, like Confucuious says ( “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ), but many times, it’s not apparent. I need to reset my vision or pause and study, or take a deep breath and ask to see the beauty. It’s always worth it.

Words--I'm constantly stimulated by words that I read, hear, and say. Many paintings have been launched from a brilliant statement in a book I’ve been devouring. Other times, it is the words that are spoken in a conference, meeting, or simple conversation that light a fire in my brain and provide me with images to create. I also love music and listen to it constantly, so many of the words spoken to me via song and words that I sing back into my empty studio provide me with inspiration. I believe that words have such an important place in my work as inspiration because I deeply desire for my work to have meaning that can be articulated. I’m not sure why, but it’s true. One of the reasons I maintain a discipline of reading, attending gatherings, listening to music, etc, is that I know words stimulate my work. I never know what words will capture my attention, so I simply try to be ready and listening with pen in hand.

The Spirit-- If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ve probably noticed I talk about God. I don’t do it to preach. I simply want to be authentic and share my story. It’s only fair to the both of us. As I was thinking about my biggest source of inspiration, I realized that it was something intangible. Someone, actually. I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit graciously inspires me on a consistent basis. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been absolutely stuck, creatively, and I just whisper up a prayer of help (yes, you can totally pray about what to paint!) and not long afterwards, I know what I’m supposed to do. I also have no other explanation for the wild tangents I have taken just because I feel compelled to do so. Many times, I have noticed that the Spirit works with my other two major sources of inspiration, beauty and words, and moves me to create something completely unique. Speaking of words, I just finished reading “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert and she openly acknowledges the magical quality of creativity and inspiration. She sees inspiration as a spiritual being that flits and floats and needs to be attracted by the right human. I see inspiration as a personal spiritual being that knows me inside and out, stays by my side no matter what I’m doing artistically, and is right there to lend me a hand when I call out for “help” simply because I’ve surrendered and allow Him to guide me. I create side by side with my Inspiration, happily nodding my head in His direction when people want to know where I came up with my ideas. I don’t mind sharing credit. It’s an honor. I might sound crazy, but I don’t really care.

So there you have it. Inspiration from three sources. Beauty, Words, and the Spirit. As you look at my work, I hope you can see those sources. I hope they shine through and I hope exploring my sources of inspiration will help you explore your own.

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