the artist's notebook










the creative life

creative issues

learn to paint

inspirational artists




waiting for inspiration

I sit in silence and watch the clouds go by on this incredible blue sky morning. This is often how I get an inspiration to paint. If I clear my head for a long enough time, the ideas come. At other times, I can be out and about, just doing normal life activities, and I look at something and see a painting. That is how the piece "Polaroid Land Camera" came about. While in an antique shop, I picked up this camera and just saw the artwork. All I had to do was put it on canvas.

Where do your ideas come from? Let's look at two different takes on inspiration.

International known American artist Chuck Close has stated, "The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case."

On the other hand, the abstract impressionist Agnes Martin spent the last twenty years of her life painting her best works by patiently waiting for inspiration. She would sit quietly in her studio until an image came to her, as small as a postage stamp, and she would write it down. Then, she would paint that image, often on a six by six foot canvas. In the documentary "With My Back To The World," she said that she once sat for six months waiting for an inspiration.

There are as many ways to be inspired as there are artists. Just as we each have our own style, our own way of looking at the world and interpreting it into our art form, we each have our unique way of finding creative ideas.