Finding Inspiration in 2021



Spending so much time at home has been a weird experience for a lot of us over 2020 and I don't seem to feel particularly inspired in any aspect of my life right now.

Which begs the question(s) - What is inspiration? Where do we find it? And what do we do when we can't find it??


Whilst talking to some of my students this week, we were discussing this very topic so I thought it might be one that would be of benefit to all of us.


I don't know about you but my brain has got very lazy over the past year! After spending 14 years in a set work routine, I finished my last office job in July 2020 and due to COVID I've not having much lined up in the way of art workshops. So my brain isn't getting much in the way of stimulation!


The word inspiration brings up images of lightbulbs going off over peoples heads or this great 'aha' moment which is a bit overdramatic I'm sure you'll agree. Flashes of inspiration can come from all kinds of place (& often at weird times!) but unless we feed our souls these will be few and far between. Without a curiosity about the world around us we will struggle to find things that inspire us which, from a creative perspective, would not only be frustrating but also rather boring!


Creative people throughout history have always searched for meaning and ways to explain the world around them. I'm not necessarily talking about some big religious epiphany but a more deeply personal understanding of our own individual worlds.


Whether your creative outlet is art, ceramics, needlecrafts or any other type of creative activity, the principle applies to all. Without taking an interest in our chosen subject and looking at ways to incorporate ideas in to our work it will be difficult to create anything that we find truly meaningful.

It's called an art practise for a reason! There needs to be a LOT of practising!!


So below are some ideas to help you muster some inspiration and keep you occupied with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

 

*Really look at the world around you - We spend so much time rushing from one place to another that we don't really take in our surroundings. I find going out into nature a great place to find inspiration but it doesn't mean that urban landscapes aren't great places to explore too.

I often find it's the little things that attract my attention. I remember a street in Reading town centre that I used to walk down every day, where a beautiful fern had made it's home clinging to the brickwork.

So look closely at things like the buildings/trees around you, how they are built/formed. Or perhaps something about the way buildings fit together to create a landscape of colour and pattern.


We tend to take loads of photos when we're out sightseeing but not when going about our daily life which is surprising as I think most people have mobile phones with cameras these days?! It's a really handy portable tool to use when you come upon things that you find interesting. My phone is mainly full of pictures of trees, plants and flowers but also sunsets and beautiful buildings I come across!!! I then download such photos to a folder on my computer for use at a later date.


Carrying a notebook and pencil in your pocket is also a good idea. You can jot down anything that pops in to your head whilst out and about. And of course, make quick sketches if you can.

 

*Museums and Exhibitions - are a great way of exploring inspirational works, whether they are from ancient times or by more contemporary artists.

One of my favourite things to do is spend the day in London traipsing round the museums or attending exhibitions.

I always come back with loads of photos and often some high resolution postcards from the gift shop which I store in a file for

use at a later date.


Of course, at the moment we are unable to go visit these places in person but a lot of museums and art galleries are providing more online content than ever before.

Often a museum's collection is viewable online but there are also a few places that are running exhibitions online at the moment.


Here are links to a few of the best ones -


British Museum, The National Gallery, Tate Britain, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, The Royal Academy, The Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers Museum.

 

*Keep a journal of inspirational ideas - use a nice journal as a place to keep sketches, clippings from magazines, photos etc, so as you move around your world you are able to draw on things that you've experienced or are yet to explore.

I collect anything that takes my fancy. You never know what will inspire you!


Here are a couple of my journals so you can get an idea.


 

*A Pinterest account - similar to the journal idea, a Pinterest account is a great way to save folders of ideas and inspiration for your work. I have folders full of interesting tutorials and pictures from around the world that I think are beautiful. Again, anything that captures your interest.


Some people provide wonderful tutorials which are intended for us to try out and learn from but obviously we need to be mindful that we aren't stealing other people's ideas.

Often I use these as a 'jumping off' point to creating something unique and personal to me.


The same could be said about YouTube videos - there are a wealth of ideas and tutorials to check out there too.

 

* An online art challenge - There are so many of these on social media these days and they are a great way of practising techniques and exploring new subjects.


I've seen ones that are a sketch a day, others that give one project theme a week which all look like excellent ways to inspire your creativity.

 

*Go to craft markets, antique stores, flea markets or car boot sales - Yes I am one of those people who likes rummaging through other peoples 'junk'!!!


Checking out all the weird and wonderful things on offer is a great way of stretching your imagination. I'm usually looking for ways I can repurpose items rather than buying new ones!


Often I combine techniques from differing mediums which is a big reason I like to use things like tutorials as a way of learning the relevant skills needed.

 

*The last piece of advice I would give is - don't force it! Trying to push yourself so hard to be inspired will only end up stressing you out. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break away from your work - it could be for a few minutes, the rest of the day or maybe even weeks.

By replenishing your creative juices as it were, you will come back to your work with a fresh eye and often this helps you to move forward in a more inspired way.


I hope these ideas will give you something to think about and use in your own practise?

I've set up a Pinterest folder for some ideas you might like to check out.


Have a wonderfully inspired and creative week!