In my artist group, we were recently asked how we stay inspired. The simple answer – I look for inspiration.
Yesterday, we went north to the edge of the desert, hunting wild flowers. The Antelope Valley was where I grew up, out among the poppies and tumbleweeds. Our home was tucked in a box canyon, one property away from the Angeles National Forest. Taking a drive north was nostalgic.
There were all sorts of changes. Solar fields had sprung up along Ave. I. There were more wind turbines along the northern slopes of the Tehachapis. It was inspiring to see these clear signs of progress.
Chasing the poppies along the desert and capturing long fields of orange were well worth the trip. A stop in the California Poppy Reserve provided information and art.
That’s part of how I practice inspiration. I allow the world to fill me up.
The problem I see with most artists – the typical complaint – is that they wait for inspiration to strike. You can’t wait. You have to pursue inspiration.
I’d argue that inspiration is like any other emotion: the more you practice it, the more it will occur. Focusing on pain, research tells us, only heightens the experience of pain. The same is true of happiness. Studies on overall life satisfaction show that people who say they are happy engage in activities that make them happy. The artist engages in inspiration – and practice (but that’s for another day).
So what inspires me – everything. The new babies and the budding flowers that come with the spring, the violence and tragedy unfolding across the world, the color orange, the traffic noise outside the window, meeting new people, the science of the paints (how nerdy!).
I practice inspiration.