People keep asking what inspires me & how I stay
inspired. I thought this was a topic for the experts but I’m realizing something
– I’m an expert in my own process. And I’d love to share it. Here are 8 tips to
inspiration gathering outings
This is probably my biggest creative practice. Inspiration
is everywhere and there are so many opportunities to tune into it. Some of my
favourite expeditions are: wandering around the city feeling like part of
something and noticing the details around me (architecture, fashion, graffiti
art, human connection…). Going boutique browsing. Watching a great film. Taking
a nature walk, feeling the energy and freshness and noticing little details. Having
a great talk with a creative ally. Watching a TED talk. Oh and of course Pinterest
browsing – almost too much inspiration there. Anything that takes you out of
your daily perspective and environment will refresh you and jolt your mind.
Things pop out and ideas begin spilling forth. I need to do this frequently or
my lens on the world dulls a bit. My friend calls it living like an artist.
2. Follow your own
Give yourself permission to follow your own rhythms. Work
when your mind is clearest and your creativity peaks. For some this is really
early in the morning. For me this is late afternoon to midnight-ish, and
sometimes well into the wee hours of the morning. It’s not always practical
when you’re a mom, but I try to create windows of opportunity. And rhythms
aren’t only on a daily basis – there are all kinds of rhythms over weeks,
months and years that creative people can harness. PMS is an incredibly
intuitive and creative time. Some artists turn out work over a few months and recover
for a few more. Embrace the rhythm that feels right to you (as much as you can
– within the context of life, family, motherhood, work etc it’s not always
3. Use your
experiences and emotions in your work
Instead of looking for things to use in your art, turn it
around and look at art as a way of expressing your way in the world. Tap into
your own experiences in life. This gives you endless material, is a way of
processing things and is a very effective healing tool. Think of it as an outlet
for growth. Here’s a great quote Mindy Lacefield shared at the Sugar and Spice
art retreat last year: “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the
opposite – getting something down. –Julian Cameron, The Artist’s Way. So there
you go, get it down.
A habit I got from the lovely Danielle Daniel is to do a
short writing exercise before you paint. Have a few prompts and free write. I
find it warms me up and removes any blocks that might have been in the way. And
of course I love to rip up my journal pages after and use them in my art!
5. Schedule time for
solo creative retreats
Schedule off a few days for a solo retreat a few times a
year. Clear your schedule and prepare beforehand to set the tone for the kind
of experience you want to create. Set some goals and targets, gather reading
materials & writing prompts, stock the kitchen and do batches of cooking so
there are healthy foods on hand, have your yoga mat and running shoes ready,
put together some music playlists and put a fresh set of sheets on the bed. And
then simply follow every instinct on what you want to do next. There is no
structure or schedule. Fully immerse yourself in your solitude. I’m lucky that
my family heads out of town when I do my retreats so I usually get to stay in
my own studio. Booking a B&B, cabin or a room at an Inn would be great too.
Many people have asked how I manage to find the time for my solo retreats – my answer
is, I make them a BIG priority which usually means giving something else up. I
treat them as seriously as I would if I were catching a plane and investing in
an expensive event somewhere else.
*Travelling to retreats and learning from teachers and other
creative souls is wonderful too!
6. Trust your
instincts & work your own way
This is a biggie. Mainstream society seems to often value
logic over intuition, practicality over creativity, self-control over emotion,
productivity over quality/ joy of use, etc. Women tend to have a more feminine
approach and work differently. We tend to be more intuitive and emotional and
it doesn’t always fit with the mainstream ways. For some people working slowly
and intentionally is part of an important creative process that yields the best
results. For me, following my instincts is at the heart of how I work, and it
took me years to figure this out and stand tall and be proud of it. Acknowledge
and embrace these parts of who you are, and trust that they will serve you
7. Incorporate tiny
creative releases into your days
For me it’ll be sketching or zentangle for awhile, then it
will shift to cooking and creating new things in the kitchen for awhile, then
it will shift to nurturing the garden, then it will be a stretch of painting in
the studio… it changes, often. But the habit is there and it always involves
doing something with my hands – regular small things I do that release
creativity into my day.
8. Be careful about looking
at others too much
It’s great to look at what’s out there, who’s creating what,
and what you like. Especially when you’re first exploring your creative style.
But over time you need to step away from this and focus more on your own
interactions with the world around you, your own interpretations of what you
see and feel, and put your own heart and soul on the canvas. I feel like having
a few key anchor mentors or idols that linger in the back of your mind is good,
and you can often see they are influencing your work, but you’re not looking at
their stuff frequently or it suppress your own unique creativity from flowing.
Also looking at others too much can lead to comparing yourself too much, which I
just don’t find helpful.
9. Let go of
inspirations being fixed
We can hold ourselves to some strange rules sometimes
– if I once loved florals it means I
will always love florals. This may not be true. Allow yourself to change
your mind, to evolve and grow out of things. It’s a necessary part of evolving your
creative style and staying inspired. This great gal reminded me of this
I have a pile of books going all the time, which I don’t
read in any kind of order. I pick them up and read bits here and there that
speak to me at the time. There are a few blogs I follow, and a couple of
magazines. It would be interesting to know the science behind what happens in
your brain when you read vs watch TV, but for now all I can say is I am much
more inspired and creative when I opt to read instead of plunk myself in front
of the box that talks.
Thanks for reading & hope there is something new in here
that you’ve learned. How do you stay inspired? Leave a comment and let me know.
As I step back and evaluate I’m thinking a lot about what
makes us tick, what we value and how we can move toward being our fullest
selves. Do you ever feel like you’re moving further from where you want to be,
but can’t seem to wrap your mind and heart around what’s needed to reshape your
Well, we’re working through it. Stripping life down to the
essentials. Practicing soul soothing and visualization. Clarifying what we
truly want in life.
I can feel a shift happening. In this moment, and over months and seasons and years and a lifetime. A shift in who I am, in how I see myself, how I navigate and interact with the world around me. Labels can be so easy to adopt. Rules can becomes woven into the fabric of your life so subtly they are fully entrenched by the time you notice, if you notice. Fear creeps in. Fear decides for you. Fear closes you off, numbs you, holds you in.
Our lives are what we make them, ripe, ready, positioned for change and evolution. It is the life of anyone brave enough to lean into it.
I've been watching films and documentaries and TED talks lately as spring ushers itself in. I'm taking a break from regular life by necessity—a break from routine, structure, shoulds and musts. It is liberating, nauseating, restless, anxious, uncomfortable and rejuvenating. I feel peace, calm, certainty, truth, wholeness, self-doubt, anger, frustration, deflation and completely lost all at once. Soon I will be back to deadlines, but for now I am simply in it.
Each inspiration is contributing something to my process—of unfolding, unfurling, becoming who I am. A new self is shaping. A softer, more compassionate, patient, sure-footed, strong hearted, tender woman is emerging. Someone whose instincts I'm not sure I completely trust or understand yet. I feel everything in every part of myself. So much pain, so much beauty. So much love and sadness. So much hope and anticipation of the next. The next what? The next… I don't know.
Trust the process. This is sprinkled in my thoughts throughout the day. It seeps into my sense of being, and I am doing my best to lean into it. Trust the process. Let life unfold.