Day 1 on "Inspiration - Where does it come from and what is it?"
Before we get started discussing techniques to unlock your "inspiration" and eventually your creativity let’s talk about “what is inspiration.” If you do a search on the Net you will see that it can be many things depending on your ideology, philosophy or religious beliefs. But for discussion sake, let’s just keep it simple and say it is something that comes from some outside source that inspires you to act.
I contend that "inspiration" is an outside source yes, but with the most important inside source and component being your mind. The mind is an extraordinary thing capable of many millions of calculations per minutes per day but one of its greatest features is the ability it gives us to think! “I think, therefore I am.” (Wonder who said that? It was Rene Descartes, a 17 Century French philosopher, mathematician and writer. He believed that humans were superior because we above all species on the planet were “self aware” and that we could “think and reason.” Wish to know more about Descartes, you can search Google for lots of info.)
Each day we get “inspiration” from someplace to decide what to cook for dinner, how to decorate our homes, landscape our yards, which fabrics, yarns, wools and computers to buy (okay, maybe not computers – we shop them usually based on need, performance and value $$$) but our brains compute daily how we go about our lives and how we live them. There is no difference when it comes to the "inspiration" required to create a painting, write a book, make a garment, design a home or write a piece of music.
The answer to the question “where does inspiration come from” is actually quite simple. You laugh, I know, but stay with me. Inspiration is like the air we breathe and is around us night and day! Now that might sound too simple for you to be true but actually it really is! All of us have ideas running through our heads daily that could be called “inspiration” and lead to a creative idea and ultimately a new rug design, painting, new widget or even a book. The challenge is learning when to recognize the thunderbolt (inspiration) that is zipping through your brain, slow it down and take a hard look at it.
Here are few pointers to start with and I will post more thoughts on this subject every few days but this will get your juices flowing for now.
1. PAPER & PENCILS/PENS
This one is easy and will facilitate all the other suggestions to come. Keep notebooks, sketchpads and/or paper all over your house with a pencil or pen available. Make sure you put one at your kitchen table, next to your bed, in your car, where you paint, hook, sew, weave, patio, garden room, basement, garage. I know, a lot of note books or sketch pads. How about a couple pieces of paper from your printer placed in those areas with a good pen and/or pencil then you won’t have to go out and buy 10 sketch pads. Be prepared when "inspiration" hits!
Okay, I was only going to do one of these suggestions per posting but since the act of putting a note book around is a pretty simple one, I’ll cheat and give you two tips today.
2. STOP, LOOK & LISTEN!
Every time an idea, image, melody or thought pops into your head follow the rule – stop, look and listen! First you have to stop what you are doing and pay attention. Second, you have to look at what has caught your attention. Third, listen to what that image sounds, looks like or what it means to you and if it has meaning and purpose for you. Many brilliant composers hear music around them all the time I've been told – they just know how to listen to it. The sound of a door bell, the hammering of the carpenter outside fixing up your house, the roar of the tractor or lawn mower, the singing of the birds, cars honking, traffic you are stuck in, the cadence of human voices - there are sounds everywhere but most of us tune them out because they are a distraction most of the time.
If you are a writer and can’t come up with a story, STOP, LOOK & LISTEN. There are story ideas everywhere you turn – TV, movies, radio, other writer’s books, Internet, dreams, family, friends, job, children, family pets, your home – EVERY WHERE! Every thing you brush up against during the day and even at night when you are sleeping are potential ideas to write, paint, hook a rug or explore.
If you are an artist (rug hookers too) and need a new idea, theme or subject to paint - STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN!
Ideas for paintings and rugs are endless. Themes or categories of art are somewhat fixed, i.e., still life, landscapes, figurative, abstract, fantasy, sci-fi, western and so on, but who knows you might develop a new category from your "inspiration." Only recently I ran across a hooked rug that was done in the same theme as an artist that I became familiar with three decades ago. The artist was Bev Doolittle and you can find her paintings if you Google her. Up until the time she created her mystery paintings with objects within objects or subjects within subjects, I can't remember seeing this type of art - probably someone out there has done something like it but also slightly different. I had a college art professor decades ago who believed that "everything has been done and now it's up to you to figure out how to do it differently!"
I really don't know if anyone, in the past, has done anything quite like this technique but it certainly was unusual and made her a celebrity of the art world for years. She had an inspiration” and ran with it. You never know where an idea will come from if you FOCUS! Ah, I almost gave away the next installment of my thoughts on Inspiration.
That’s all for today so check back in a few days and I will expand on my ideas of “where does inspiration come from” and we’ll explore “how to recognize it and what do you do with inspiration when it hits you?” Just be prepared with those pieces of paper and pen!