This started out as a quick post but has turned into a narrative. A rambling one at that. I apologise in advance because much like Churchill/ Pascal/ Mark Twain (not sure exactly who said it - but some person of literary note); I did not have time to write a short one.
This recent post from Anna at Absolutely Beautiful Things got me thinking about inspiration - where it comes from, how you seek it and how it manifests, what it even is - and what this all means to different people out there in our world. And what I think is that both personally and professionally; whether you work in a 'creative' field or totally the opposite; inspiration plays a very interesting and vital role in all of our lives. I think it's the thing that causes action. The thing that makes us do. It sets us on our actual course, is the precursor to the lives we actually lead, and the spark that ignites the motivation within us to turn thoughts into deeds; each and every day.
Now that's all rather deep and corny for a Wednesday night (Thursday morning by the time I finish this) isn't it. But you'll just have to indulge me as this is particularly poignant for me right now, because I have just embarked on a very new and different path in my life and as part of it, I am grappling with the challenge of how to 'create' each and every day. Inspiration is suddenly much more than pretty pictures and day dream fodder - it's a tool, a 'must-have' and something I am quickly realising I need to nurture and seek if I am to continue with my vocation being essentially, ideas on paper.
You see I used to work in an office - albeit a creative one (making ads), but still, an office - slugging my guts out and as they say, working for the man. It certainly wasn't the worst job in the world in fact quite the opposite; as I have always had the privilege of working with creative & smart people, and I learnt a lot along the way. However I did always have this very nagging feeling that I was missing out; that I was wasting something inside me, a feeling of what else could be and what else I could become. Not that I could put my finger on what that other 'thing' is/ was (still can't!) - but I just knew it wasn't sitting at my desk night after night with a tin of tuna for dinner, writing very long emails to clients who went home 5 hours ago and reconciling costs (i.e. profits) on jobs that certainly weren't heading my bank account's way.
So, I quit. I really had no idea as to what would come next; I am normally quite a sensible/ considered person so it really was a big leap of faith and fairly irresponsible, too. I often feel very guilty and very Gen Y (or is it X? or Z? never sure) for taking a break after oh-such-a-hard-5-years-working! - but the truth is I just had to make a change while I was still young and dumb enough to think it would turn out, and also to (fortunately) not have too many responsibilities. I think the final decision was just a product of timing - the combination of needing a holiday that made me finally listen to what my family & loved ones had been saying to me for years and just go ahead and do it. It was a big risk and I really didn't (still don't!) have much more that a vague plan for it all. Oh and by plan I mean an understanding that I might have to scramble my way through a bit of uncertainty; make some sacrifices and try a few different things along the way; with a hope that I might ultimately create a path for myself that aligned a more with the things that I love & feel best doing. What am I talking about again... ah yes inspiration. Getting there.
So after all of this soul-searching, finding my place etc etc etc blah blah blah - I have found myself taking on the role of an 'artist' (haha) and spend my days painting. A year ago I would have found this notion ridiculous and I still find it very funny and weird but nonetheless here I am, spending my days amidst my paints and papers and sketches and books and pens and sketches and more sketches; (and here comes the relevance) - trawling the net for inspiration of what to draw next. Yes!
Yes, this life sure does have it's perks - can't say I'll pass up a lunchtime sunbake, and if I want to paint till 2am then sleep in till 10 in the morning I can - however this new me does also require a fair amount of discipline to get through the days with at least some semblance of productivity.
I'm only at the tip of the iceberg with all of this but what I have learnt so far in 'having' to be creative is that some stuff comes easily, and then some just doesn't (this not rocket science, I know). And for me, as what I do is paint and draw; I find the artwork I produce best is always of subjects I love the most (yes again, not rocket science). In theory this shouldn't be the case as technically, a red rose is no more difficult to paint than a bunch of white jonquils - however for some reason, the things I have most affinity with always turn out the best (i.e. the jonquils); whilst the others (i.e. red rose) find themselves half done, mucked up and often in the bin.
So what I am learning for my own processes (note to self moving forward too) is that inspiration is particularly important for the jobs/ pieces/ things that I have less affinity with. So the very nature of these being things I associate less with, of course means that I need to be an 'active' searcher for inspiration which is kind of counter intuitive I know- as inspiration shouldn't be forced - but for a working artiste (that's me) I guess this kind has it's place too. Wow so long winded. Don't worry here's where I segue into relevance to me and my life. After all this is what blogs are all about.
At the moment, I am pulling together a large number of artworks together for my exhibition in just over a month's time and in as I get to the pointy end; I am becoming acutely aware of the things that aren't coming as freely to me; and my current bug bear is, quite specifically, subjects/ things in the ruby red/ sleek black/ rich luxe genre/ type-of-a-deal. You see I've broadly classed all my work in colour/ tone themes (have you noticed I like to do this?) - and as such my 'pretty pinks', 'classic whites' and 'fresh greens and blues' are nearly done. However the more bold stuff in reds and blacks - I just can't seem to crack, so now I can't look sideways without a speck of red catching my eye in the hope that it's that spark I need to get these creative juices flowing. INSPIRATION.
Cue the puppies, and hurrah, almost the end of this post.
When I got up early this morning to a bright sunny day, I was immediately taken with the blood red geraniums in our little courtyard and how complimentary the dashing Lily and Gracie looked against them. Lily's tan coat, Grace trotting about all regal-like in her black and white, the two of them flitting about the geranium petals; aha, I get red! I say this in jest but honestly, I was suddenly inspired and energised with the brilliance and beauty of this palette that I took a few snaps and got straight inside to pull that red paint out, stat.
So the point to this story? Not sure where it went I'm sorry. But inspiration is vital, whatever its shape or form; and you need to continue to want it and seek it and find it everyday, to make yourself better. And red geraniums and Cavalier King-Charles Spaniels do look adorable on an October morning.