Invite Inspiration

December 6th, 2006

Bring Love, mixed media. Inspiration came while taking a bath and doing a visualization meditation.

I get ideas for art in odd places. Yeah, sure, sometimes when I sit down with a sketchbook and other times I don't wait for the ideas I just start working and the ideas come. But quite often, the ideas come when my talky-talky mind is in another place. Sometimes this takes place when I'm doing what Julia Cameron calls an "artist's brain activity" which would be something like pulling weeds or folding laundry or going for a run, something repetitive that entertains your logical side and allows your creative mind to wander. I have found that great activities for me in this sense are driving (although maybe it shouldn't be!), showering, weeding, cleaning, and picking at my toenails. heh. I love how this works. Recently, Minnie wrote about how she felt more productive while having the t.v. on and asked if it was wrong or bad to have a distraction like that. In my humble opinion, it's totally fine. Whatever works. I have done this for a long time, setting up my art making tools on the floor while some random show is on that I'm not watching. I used to feel kind of bad about this too until in massage school of all places we did a multi-day workshop on learning styles. Dawna Markova wrote about this theory in her book Open Mind (and on an unrelated note, she also wrote a great poem called, "I will not die an unlived life") and this website lays out more of the details of Markova's work if you're interested.)

I wish I could re-cap it for you in some way that was clear, but basically there are three learning channels: visual, kinetic and auditory; and we use all three, each of us in different ways and in different orders. The first channel is on your conscious level, second is subconscious, and third unconscious. So for me, I'm a visual learner first, I need to see things written down or in picture format and even better to write down what I'm hearing in order to absorb it. My third learning channel is auditory, so if I'm in a lecture and can't take notes, I will absorb very little, in fact my mind wanders like crazy if I have nothing to do but listen. So even if I'm not taking notes, just letting my hand move across the paper with doodles allows me to stay in the moment and listen. I think it's quite clear that schools are not very good at teaching to all the learning styles and one thing the massage school was aiming to do was to present the material in multiple ways so that everyone could grasp the information. At least they tried.

So, back to the learning channels. Knowing this and learning more about these channels, I realized that the sound of the t.v. acts as a distraction to the talky-talky side of my brain and allows the more intuitive, creative side of my brain work more freely. In a completely quiet space I tend to think too much and the art often gets stiff. It's great to know where and when inspiration comes for you. Next time you get an idea, take note of where you are and what you're doing.

Another place I get a lot of ideas are in bed, right before I fall asleep...often after I've turned out the light! The idea for the piece I used a part of for my banner above came like this. I keep pens and paper and if I'm prepared a journal/sketchbook on my nightstand. That way, I can flip on my lamp and scribble out my idea before I forget it (and I will forget it if I don't write it down!) In her great book, Taking the Leap, Cay Lang suggests trying this out: "Every night before you go to bed, write or sketch three ideas for your art in your journal." She suggests that you don't make a big production out of it, but just to spend a few minutes getting some ideas on paper. Some will never see the light of day. That's ok, you never know what you might set in motion.

So try it out, if the idea inspires you. Or just try being more aware of when inspiration floats into your line of sight and then cultivate it, open the door, invite it in, celebrate those moments because they're part of what makes you unique and they're part of the vision only you can bring forth.

The idea isn't to make art. It's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.
-Robert Henri

12 Responses

I love this kat. How do you come up with such unique and colorful pieces? Do I detect some bathroom tile enmeshed in there somewhere? (I think it’s just me, you know, the power of suggestion. The color blue and crossword squares eminate a cool, yet vibrant moment. Another winner, girl!


and then there’s me, who can’t knit and talk at the same time without making mega-mistakes…

I find your art work is constantly pushing my boundaries and challanging me to enjoy work that I do not normally find interesting. I really like this piece.

I love learning about learning styles. My son has a learning disability and learning to help him plunged me into the world of how our brains work. I totally concur that having some kind of sound running really helps to release your creative mind. I presonally don’t use the TV, its visuals distract me, but love music and especially Audio Books. (Oddly, when I look at a painting later I can remember the sound of or place in the book I was listening too when I painted that one piece). When I write I need to use music (words jumble up my own words), but I simply can’t stand silence.

How are things going? I’m so excited to read about your studio search. (And maybe a little bit jealous.)

Leah, I love this description. I have a tv on in the background all day and have since I was a kid. I’d do my calculus homework in front of the tv! I am always doing at least two things at once to keep myself from being bored or restless. Thanks for sharing this awesome information. I will have to delve further into this idea. And I LOVE your art piece!
xoxo, Fran

wow, this is an excellent and enlightening post! I first was drawn in by this gorgeous piece you created, then your lovely lesson on inspiration, etc. you are very gifted at teaching Leah, as well as art! Thank you for sharing your lessons and experiences with us! xxoo Lia

love the art! just wanted to say hi & that i am still alive & kicking!

Yay you!, for demystifying your process. This makes the prospect of creating so much more inviting and attainable to others (as I believe it can be). I especially like the Robert Henri quote. xo

LOVE this post!! And even more, I LOVE THE ART! I think it might be my all-time favorite…I don’t know why, or what it’s triggering for me, but the minute I saw it, I INSTANTLY loved it. And learning channels…so key sometimes, and hard when we live with others who have different frequencies. ;) J is COMPLETELY auditory…if he has to learn something or study for a test, he can ONLY do it with music blasting (and preferably right into his head via headphones). I prefer silence and quiet if I’m trying to relax. But if I’m opening up to being creative or trying to learn, I almost prefer some white noise, even if I’m not listening to it (which I’m not). I’m very visual, and have always had a hard time learning and retaining info when it’s coming to me via the auditory channel…need to SEE it.

Hmm… I’ve never thought of this before!!! I’ll have to pay attention to when and how inspiration strikes me. *pondering this*

Awesome post Kat!!! Err… I mean… Leah. *giggle*

Kat, I love what you are doing here. Eventually, I’ll get back into the creavity flow again but I wanted to say hi and tell you cool new blog!

I do my best thinking when I am driving or in the shower. This post makes sense to me. That is one benefit of working at night. I am pretty much on my own so I get to do alot of thinking. I am one of those people who Love to think! (which some people have told me I think too much…Impossible!)

Something interesting; I think I have developed this discrimination against male artist. As soon as I saw the author in the book you link to was a man I kind of discounted the book. I find that I intuitively want to read blogs and books by women and when I see something by a man I haven’t previously heard of I kind of shrug it off. I do have some favorite men authors. I think this is a recent phenomenon with me. I have to *think* more about why I do this…

hey melba dear, that is interesting about the male artist phenomenon. definitely something to look at more closely. i often relate better to feminine sensibilities, but not always. however, both books I mentioned here are by women (one of the links describing markova’s work is by a man, but he didn’t write the orignal work.) :-)

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