Inspiration, an exciting but fickle friend.

Inspiration, an exciting but fickle friend.



I'm pretty sure inspiration is something that comes up a LOT on the internet in general and in the art and creative world specifically.
I've been thinking about my inspiration a lot lately, so I thought I'd spit all my thoughts out in a blog post ;-)

Let me first say, to me there's pretty much no greater feeling than being on an inspiration rush. It's exhilarating, exhausting, gives me tons of butterflies in my stomach, addictive, confidence boosting and just all around joyful. It's a whirlwind of energy and emotion flying around inside me.

I once participated in a philosophical discussion about what inspiration is when I was studying to be a teacher. Back then, the best way to describe what inspiration is in my view, was that it is a burst of energy, the root of, or beginnings of an idea and a compulsion to do something. All of that combined, really. It still is the best way for me to explain what I think inspiration is. It compels an urge to create.
That urge can be triggered by lots of different things, looking upon a specific scene, the feeling I have when traveling somewhere, a conversation I'm having with my dude about one of my previous pieces or maybe pieces I'm planning, a beautiful illustration on Pinterest, awesome costumes or headdresses at the Fantasy Fair I go to twice a year, colours I see in nature or in yarn or in other art, loads of things, really.

For instance, the idea for the Diamonds on the Water sculpted mermaid painting I made at the beginning of the year, was triggered by a boat trip we took last September to the Isle of Canna in Scotland on a super sunny day. The sun sparkled on the water so brightly, it was blinding, it was so bright white that it looked like gems that could be scooped up off the water.

 


 

This is a pic from that trip to Canna. This the open ocean. The water was so calm that day, it sparkled everywhere! This was actually taken more near the end of the day when it was all a little less blinding, since I wasn't even able to capture how sparkly the water was earlier that day.

Another example, is the Aries painting I made not so long ago. It was inspired by all the awesome horn headdresses I saw people wearing when I went to Elfia this April. I just couldn't wait to make a girl with ram horns because I'm an Aries myself and I wanted to have the painting express how I feel when I'm hiking in the Scottish Highlands surrounded by vast scenery, grass and sheepies.

For me, there's various different forms of inspiration (as in what it compels me to make and also various gradations of inspiration.
As for forms, I can have the urge to tell a story with an illustration, which is what most of my clay paintings and art pendants are for me, like Meg, the Bakery Fairy, whom I sculpted onto an art pendant.

There are other instances where I just feel the urge to let my hands go, and all they seem to want to do, is make pretty flower, swirl, vine and leaf patterns, my latest embroidery clay paintings, the Dreams butterfly and the Moon Light crescent moon are examples of that urge.

I can also be urged to experiment with colour and texture, which is when I make fiber jewelry and accessories.

Then, last but not least, I can want to tell a story with fiber. That's a thing that's come to me rather recently and has taken the form of my needle felted pictures. The more colour, texture and fiber, the better, which is why I love my Harris Tweed Fairies so much. They have a colourful and textured background in the form of the Harris Tweed (have you ever worked with Harris Tweed? My goodness, is that a lush material!!), they have flat and 3d needle felt elements and they have art yarns and silk yarns!

The thing, though with inspiration is, you have to act on it, or it goes away. At least I do. I have periods where my inspiration levels are so high, I keep zinging with energy, and there's this near constant feeling of almost a swelling heart, which is great. But my head is swimming pretty much constantly, I get idea after idea and I have to write it all down, with as much detail as I can manage, otherwise I won't know what I came up with anymore afterwards. Some pieces sing louder and more insistent in my head than others, those are the ones that absolutely have to be made, preferably now. This is why I prefer working on more than one piece at a time, because my ideas aren't so considerate that they will wait their turn. I have to go back and forth between 3 or 4 pieces, because they all want to be made now.
 

When I'm on this inspiration 'high', I'm not the greatest person to be around, I'm not the best partner, the best housemate, the best daughter or granddaughter or the best friend. I become a hermit, I withdraw almost completely into my 'zone' of story, colour, inspiration and concentration and when something breaks my 'flow', like a phone call (sorry gran, who loves to call me to chat in the middle of the afternoon! this is why I have my phone on mute and almost never pick it up during the day) or having to stop because the dude is coming home from work and dinner needs to be made, I get a bit cranky. Then I'm probably a bit like a 2-year old who was woken from their nap a little too early.
Thankfully, while I mostly don't have a shortage of inspiration, these 'high' periods usually don't last longer than two weeks.
Then I settle into a weeks and weeks long period of being highly motivated, being quite productive, but able to work like a fairly normal person and not get cranky when I'm interrupted from my concentration and 'flow'.

What I hate, though, is the periods I have sometimes (thankfully they're not super often and not super long) where my inspiration has run dry.
I know there's a saying that goes 'Inspiration is for amateurs', well, call me an amateur then, because I don't work well without inspiration. I need the energy and motivation it gives me.

Usually I have these 'dry spells' around Winter time. I found out this past Winter that I have SAD, seasonal affective disorder (fantasy author Elizabeth May has some great posts about SAD, of which this is one, that resonate so strongly with me!), also called Winter depression.
I love Winter, actually (I love all seasons! I'm very grateful to be living in a part of the world where we have 4 seasons. But my favourite seasons are Autumn and Winter), but it doesn't seem to communicate well with my body.
In short, SAD is a kind of 'disorder' that scrambles up your energy and sleeping schedule. It makes you want to sleep a lot, especially during times when the 'normal working world' is active and it makes you active when you're 'supposed' to be sleeping. This lack of energy during the day, really influences your motivation and that causes you to feel lazy when you're unproductive, which causes a 'shame spiral' which causes a very negative feeling that is very hard to pull out of.
For me, it mostly means I CANNOT sleep at night. A kind of Winter insomnia. I can easily stay awake pretty much most of the night and not fall asleep until 5 or 6 in the morning and then I fall into an uneasy, light sleep and wake up anywhere between 11 am and 1.30 pm. And then, by the time I'm kind of fit enough to start working it's 3 or 4 pm and then it's almost time to stop and make dinner again. Let me tell you, I know it sounds like a luxury problem, but it sucks!
This lack of energy during Winter also seems to dry up a lot of my inspiration at times. I get surges here and there, but because I'm so tired and lacking in energy, it's hard to constantly rally them into action.
I'm actually thinking of just going 'screw normal society's hours' this coming Winter and just getting up to work at night and then go to bed around the time I usually fall asleep in Winter anyway. I will let you know how that goes ;-)

At the moment, I am coming out of a few weeks of inspiration 'high' and settling into a normal, good production rhythm. I am working on several pieces at once, and I'm very happy at the moment with all my eggs in different baskets (I have my own website and shop here and at Etsy, I have a seperate shop for my Fiber goodies, I have pretties lying in a shop in Maastricht called PUUR, and I have some exciting possibilities lined up for the near and a bit more distant future that I can't say anything about yet, because I don't know if they'll go through), and my inspiration is a good friend at the moment :-)

How does inspiration work for you?

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