Inspiration comes from everywhere. That’s what I decided after last night’s book signing event, here at Art Unraveled in Phoenix this week. (By the way, I am having a ton of fun hanging out in the creative energy of this retreat. It’s so fun to get away from my desk sometimes and soak in the inspiring energy of others.)
I think I counted fourteen artists featured at this event, which was moderated by Ricë Freeman-Zachery (so you know it’s going to be not only compelling, but entertaining as well) and all of the artists had either books that have been published or DVDs. Ricë asked the artists to each share from where they drew their inspiration. Several of the artists said they were inspired by words—the words of others as well as their own words. Jen Cushman has a journalism background and she just naturally loves words as expression and loves the stories that constantly surround her. Kathy Cano-Murillo has recently published two fiction works and she said she often uses the characters from her books as inspiration in her art and she encouraged all of us to write a fictional story just for this purpose. She said it’s great to be able to use the mishaps and silly ways of your characters as prompts for making art when you don’t feel like using your own shortcomings as examples. I loved that. Then, of course, Lisa Engelbrecht—Letterista that she is—makes beautiful art out of words and letters.
Other responses to where inspiration came from included textures, colors, journals, assorted mediums, materials found in nature (Mary Beth Shaw is currently inspired by the beauty of rocks and the gorgeous patterns of strata), memories of loved ones (Ruth Rae talked about two fabric journals she made that honor her memories of her grandmothers) and so on. But I really like how Eric and David—The Journal Fodder Junkies—summed things up by saying inspiration is more of a thing that’s simply in the air we breathe and we are in essence inspired by what we do, what we say, where we go—all day long—everywhere. I don’t know about you, but when I set out to make something, I’m not actually thinking about what should inspire me, I’m just automatically, innately inspired and without actually being aware of it, I’m creating using the library of things that have taken up a spot on the shelf in my mind. Sometimes those things are as simple as a scrap of torn paper and other times they’re more “glamorous” such as a good meal or a color that I loved seeing on a billboard.
Maybe this view sounds trite or obvious, but for me, I kind of liked how it seemed to have removed some of the pressure of having a particular brand of thing, if you will, that represents me. I like that you and I are much bigger than any one theme, and that’s it’s OK to not have a standard answer to where our inspiration comes from. Next time, I’m asked, I’m going to be happy to say, everywhere. From the color red, the texture of glass, chocolate gelato, bike rides along the canal, Sarah McLachlan, sand, graphite, chili-pepper pesto, hearts, the stars, rain, the Internet . . .from my life.
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