WHERE DO MY IDEAS COME FROM?
Search Your Heart Not Your Mind, 48"x 36", mixed media on wood
I was having a phone conversation with my uncle the other day. He and my aunt live in Sacramento, California and they have both been big supporters of me and my art career. My uncle wanted to know what I was currently working on in my studio. I began to describe some of my paintings to him and he stopped me and asked, "Where do you get your ideas from?" Great question. The answer I gave him was, "Oh, just out of my head I guess."
Not such a good answer.
After the phone call, I began thinking more about my uncle's question and the seemingly lame answer that I gave him.
"Where do my ideas really come from?"
And, why should I care? After all, it's what I do with those ideas that really matters. Isn't it?
After much thinking, I realized that I get my ideas from many sources including:
- I ride a bike 3 days a week. I have plenty of time to think on these treks. Walks are good too. Walks with a camera are even better.
- I always come away with some ideas when I go on a vacation. Especially if it is a place I have never been. It doesn't have to be to an exotic location or to some far off distant land. It could be the next town or city over that you have never really explored.
- I listen to a lot of music and I am particularly inspired by lyrics. Songwriters are amazing. They paint pictures with beautifully crafted combinations of words.
- As do writers of novels. I was born and grew up in Salinas, California. Home of the author John Steinbeck. I have begun a quest to re-read everything he has written. I am currently three books books into it and I already have some ideas.
- I love fashion photography. The bold, graphic artsy images are full of inspiration for me. I get interesting color ideas and shape ideas from photography in general.
- Of course, other artists, past and present, are one of the ways many contemporary artists, including me, get their ideas and inspiration. I am currently inspired by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, Raphael, Edvard Munch, Nathan Oliveira, Robert Rauschenberg, Bruce Samuelson and Harry Paul Ally.
Now, even with a head full of inspiration, I still have to come up with the concepts and visuals for my own drawings and paintings. So, I think, ponder, brainstorm, write, scrawl notes and sketch.
Sometimes an idea will come to me when I least expect it and I am not equipped to write it down or do it justice in an elaborate sketch. Thank goodness for Post-It Notes and paper napkins. Yes, the stereotype is true.
Below is the initial sketch I made on a lime-green Post-It Note that helped inspire the above finished piece.
Idea sketch for "Search Your Heart Not Your Mind"
I got this idea and needed to get it out of my head and make it visual ASAP.
If you have been a student of mine, taken a workshop with me or have been reading this blog, you know that this is one of my rules for myself. And, I often suggest it as a good practice for all artists to adopt as well. If I keep an idea in my head too long, and don't make it visual, then I run the risk of over thinking the original idea and it can become overworked, stale or boring. A mere shell of it's original, exciting self. Ideas are usually more emotional and full of life when they are first hatched.
But, I digress.
The point is, ideas do eventually come out of our heads, although, it often takes outside inspiration and hard work on the artists part to bring them to glorious, visual fruition.
And as far as why you should care where you get your ideas from? Well, for me, when I have no ideas and am not inspired, I know right where to go. I know that I can look through my Edvard Munch book, read some John Steinbeck or hop on my bike.
It's all good.
And, you know what? The answer I gave my uncle was a good answer after all. It just wasn't well thought-out enough. I owe him a more thoughtful answer.
Send me an email and let me know where you get your inspiration from. I would love to hear about it. In an upcoming blog, I will let you all know where my readers get their inspiration from.