I was a guest speaker for a zoom art class and the teacher asked me if I have any advice on how to get inspired. I don't go looking for inspiration. I just try to stay aware of when it comes to me. Trying to get inspired is like trying to go to sleep. The more you chase it, the further it gets from you. Remember, nothing will hinder your ability to get inspired more than stress, including stressing about getting inspired.
I have to admit, I’m a huge homebody, but I know that in my experience, the most inspiring moments often come when I’m out and about. There may be a place that is a source of inspiration for you and you know what that place is better than I do.
Take this drawing for instance.
The people in it are my aunt and her knitting instructor. When I took the photo that became the reference for this drawing, I was visiting my aunt in New Jersey. We were out and about and she wanted to stop and see her knitting instructor about something. When I saw my aunt and her instructor working together, I thought the situation looked like it could be a piece of art. I took out my phone, took a pic of what was in front of me, and the rest is history. So, I guess if I had to give advice about how to get inspired it would be to go for a walk, or run errands.
I tend to find those moments when people, and even more so, animals, are going about their business the most inspiring now that I think about it. I can’t remember the last time I tried to pose someone for a photo and when people pose on their own, I try to get them to stop. People just aren’t themselves when they’re posing.
Picasso said “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I made a YouTube video elaborating on my thoughts on this quote. I say, don’t wait to be inspired to start working. Thomas Frank reiterated in the video that inspired my last post on this blog, that amateurs wait to be inspired to create, while professionals create on a consistent schedule. He quoted a writer friend of his as saying, “I wait for inspiration to work. It just so happens that my inspiration comes every morning at 8 a.m.” Is Thomas’s friend really struck with inspiration every morning consistently at 8 a.m? I doubt it. Rather, what he’s more likely saying is that he does his writing every day at that time, whether he’s actually inspired or not.
Getting back to what Picasso said, the more you work at your craft, the more inspired you will be. As Maya Angelou said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."
There's a video I watched recently called "'I Don't Feel Like It' Is A Mindset For Amateurs". The video is over five years old, but it was brought to my attention again within the past week. The video, which was made by a youtuber who teaches productivity named Thomas Frank, has made me feel even more driven to work on a consistent schedule, although I'd believed in disciplined work for a long time.
More importantly I think, this video made me realize, though, was that it's okay to make imperfect, even downright bad work, as long as I'm still working. I decided to take that approach when I sat down to right my newsletter this week. I didn't know everything I wanted to put in it. I'd just write what came to me. Anything that I decide I didn't want in when it was time to send it out, could be deleted. By the way, if you haven't subscribed to my newsletter, there's a form where you can do to the side of this post. I always include at least one in progress pic of whatever I'm working on that week and a lot of times I include my future plans.
Anyway I'm grateful for this mindset shift before I would feel bad if I did work that I thought was not up to par. Of course, I want to make good work, but things can be done over and revised. They don't have to be just right the first time and I don't have to share those crappy first layers or what have you with anyone if I don't want to. But I have to make them in order to make the good stuff.
Here is Thomas's channel. He has a lot of useful tips on productivity and time management.
Painter of portraits and wildlife