10.15.2012

Where Does Artistic Inspiration Come From

Cell No.21, by Angela Canada Hopkins
As an artist, one of the most common questions I'm asked by fans and gallery-goers is how I come up with ideas of what to paint. Now, if you're familiar with my particular art, you know that almost all my paintings are representations of cancerous cells, a muse that found me after losing my father to the disease. While this is the foundation upon which all of my paintings are built, each piece requires its own special inspiration to be beautiful, interesting, and different than all of my other work. Inspiration is a tricky thing. It's not always reliable, which is why you often see artists complaining about creativity blocks. Sometimes it just feels like the inspiration switches off, and you're left with a blank page or canvas, wondering what went wrong. In artistic circles, there's lots of discussion about where inspiration comes from and how we inspire ourselves when the creative juices just don't want to flow. In order to understand creative inspiration, it's important to think of yourself like a vessel. Sometimes, inspiration fills us up to the brim, and we can draw on it for a while. Eventually, inspiration can become depleted. Here are a few ways to fill yourself up again.

Inspiration from Place

Ever heard someone say, "I just need a change of scenery"?  Where we choose to work or explore creative ideas can have a big impact on how inspired we feel. Some artists feel inspired when outdoors. Nature has many healing and calming properties, and spending some quiet time in a beautiful place can do wonders for your creative self.  

Inspiration from People

Humans are social creatures. We crave attention, camaraderie, and affection. We love to do things with other humans. While solitude is important for concentration, isolation is the enemy of inspired art. When facing a creative block, denying yourself human contact will likely only make the problem worse. Go out for dinner with your friends. Play outside with your kids. Organize a movie marathon of every film your favorite actor has ever made. Reestablishing connections with stimulating people is a great way to kick-start inspiration.

Inspiration from Distraction

It is possible to become too involved in your creative work. Sometimes we're so immersed, we can't step back and view things as a whole. We lose our way, unsure if things are really as good as we think. We become paralyzed, and lose our inspiration. Although art is a passion, for many, it's also a career. We can be tempted to "keep our nose to the grindstone," ignoring all else in pursuit of
our goals. But sometimes distractions can be a good thing. Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times came out with a feature on artistic inspiration. Many of the professionals and experts interviewed said that distractions, doing something completely unrelated to their art, were the best way to break through a block. Read more here.  

Where does your artistic inspiration come from? Share ideas/experiences in 
a comment!

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