Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Quest for Inspiration (Or, Oh Drat Where Did It GO??)

Painting by: Edgar Degas

Inspiration is a tricky little bugger. It plays hide and seek, arrives when you least expect it, and leaves without a trace.....sometimes for weeks at a time. If you think your job as an artist is just to paint, draw, and create then boy are you in for a surprise.

Many artists feel alone when they're uninspired. They wonder if others go through the same thing (yes we do) and wonder if other artist's slumps have lasted as long as their own (yes they have). But please take comfort in this fact: losing and gaining inspiration is part of being an artist. It is the ebb and flow of creativity; a natural swing of things that you will continually try to weather and work with.

It's careful balance. Don't push too hard when you're just not inspired, but also take responsibility and try to gain that inspiration back. Reading books about your favorite artists (Degas is one of mine), visiting museums, going for a long walk on a beautiful day, whatever works for you. Sometimes the best thing to do is take a break from drawing and do something completely different for a while. That way you'll return to your desk feeling refreshed (of course don't do that sort of thing when you're on a tight deadline!).

The main point is this: don't let it get you down or scare you. It's just the wave pulling back from the sand for a bit. It always comes back. Believe me, I have to remind myself of that many many times.


storyqueen said...

I love Degas! Actually, I'm kind of fond of most of the impressionists. What a great place to find inspiration.


Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

I hear you Paige. We all go through this and of course artists are even more vulnerable, in my opinion.

I once listened to Elizabeth Gilbert speak on TED, she explained the process of inspiration and muse in a wonderful way. Here is the link if you want to see it:



Jessie said...

You're so right Paige. I think it's helpful to have a collection of particular books and artist's web-sites that inspire me when I'm feeling like this. Of course a visit to you is ALWAYS an inspiration!xx

Michelle Henninger said...

Very timely Paige. I've been going through that very thing lately. It's good to know that others go through this too. :)

Ginger*:) said...

Ah yes, how true. And the reverse has its pitfalls too. Sometimes there is so much an illustrator may want to complete for all the ideas they have on paper that there aren't enough hours in any one day and that day stretches into night and the next day is here before you know it. When that happens it helps to have the same advice at hand. Take a walk, find a buddy to share it with, (the dog maybe) but get some fresh air and renew and rewind a bit.

Phyllis Harris said...

Wonderful post, Paige! A great reminder...

mai s kemble said...

how true is this?
I think Degas could inspire me too... quite lovely... :)
It's funny because there is a lot of guilt involved when not working, isn't there? And yet, we gotta try to fit in some "living" too!! (seeing our friends/family).
Ah, balance is a tough one... and I find too that the more busy you are, the more inspired and able to keep with the creative flow... and the more free time there is, the more I'll get "uninspired."
thanks for posting this though... I think I may have to go peruse the children's book section of the local bookstore today... :)

theartofpuro said...

Paige I totally agree with what you wrote and it happens unfortunately.For me the better thing to do is doing something different and then unexpected the inspiration arrive!