Finding the Muse Within: Inspiration in Art and How to Find It
Inspiration is a strange and often elusive thing. It seems to ebb and flow; arriving in our lives at often unexpected times; then departing just as abruptly. For many, inspiration can be a fleeting experience; yet a powerful one; a moment in time that motivates the individual to take action and drives them to achieve something significant. For others, inspiration can be a more gradual process; a slow awakening to a new influence or surrounding that eventually permeates into their everyday life. Of course, inspiration is of vital importance to an artist. Without inspiration, art simply cannot exist; or at least, certainly not in the format we recognize today. Yet where does an artist find inspiration? Can inspiration be forced, or is it necessary for it to occur naturally? And has inspiration changed throughout the ages; is inspiration now a very different experience for modern artists, compared to artists in the past?
Where Can Inspiration Be Found?
The beauty of the process of inspiration is that it can be found virtually anywhere. Historically, artists have found inspiration in the most unlikely of places; discovering it in the faces of those around them, in the scenery in which they live and in important contemporary events. However, it can be difficult to be open to inspiration all the time. The repetitive elements of everyday life can so often get in the way; causing people to be distracted and less attentive to external influences. For those seeking to find inspiration, it is a good idea to develop an attitude of being open to it; of deliberately opening the eyes and taking in surroundings, situations and even moments of silence. Sometimes it is necessary to work at being inspired, and to remain focused on keeping alert to the influences that surround us. As Picasso so famously said; ‘Inspiration exists, but it must find you working’. One of British Columbia’s finest painters, Emily Carr, found inspiration from the coastline; but she had to work to find the inspiration; taking repeated trips to the coast and exploring the area fully. In short, if you want to discover inspiration; adopt the attitude that you may well have to venture out and hunt it down.
Can Inspiration Be Found Closer to Home?
Of course, there are many things closer to home that will open up the road to inspiration. Van Gogh, famously, was inspired by one of his friends; Paul Gauguin; not to mention the local postman and even his own bedroom. It is entirely possible to locate inspiration in the small, everyday things that surround us; after all, these are often the things that emotionally engage us and cause us to have a meaningful response, and it is entirely possible to seek these out in the comfort of your own home, providing you are receptive to it. Some artists have even been inspired by the works of others, such as literature, or even other artistic works! Of course, artistic expression need not be limited to paints and brushes either. There are many other forms of artistic expression which respond excellently to inspiration; from sewing to clay sculpture. Whatever medium you choose to express yourself in, the same rules for inspiration still apply. Remain alert to your surroundings and keep an open mind!
Maintaining the Purity of Inspiration
In times of recession, it can sometimes be tempting to view art as a lucrative business, rather than a creative process. After all, historically, the news has been full of reports of artwork selling for vast sums of money, leading many to form an assumption that art is ‘easy money’, providing you have some measure of technical skill. However, as any artist will tell you; it is not that simple. Once money enters the equation, inspiration tends to leave just as rapidly. Rather than focusing on the profitability of the market, focus instead upon the process itself; the joy of feeling inspired and of creating something really meaningful that captures that inspiration perfectly. Inspiration in its purest, undiluted form can be a powerful thing; yet it requires dedication, perseverance and commitment to use it properly. However, once you’ve felt it, and acted upon it, it can prove to be one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.