Inspiration: A Guest Post by Bridget Benton

September 17th, 2009

bridget watercolor

There are a lot of things that inspire me in my art making – scanning blogs, going to museums and art galleries, checking out new materials, talking to people about art, even cleaning up the house. But the thing that inspires me most is working.

If I go a week or more without making art, I start to feel sluggish. I may check out a few blogs or buy a new pen, but if I've gone a while without actually making, I start to get intimidated by what I see on the blogs or even nervous about whether or not I'm up to the new pen. I also start to get cranky. Art making starts to seem, well, hard, and the couch starts to look, well, really good.

Remember what it's like when you're totally out of shape and the elevator's out of order and you have to climb six flights of stairs to get to a meeting you're late for? Ok, so maybe it's never happened to you exactly like that, but the point is, I'm sure you can imagine the wheezing, sweating, noodle-limbed creature that emerges on the sixth floor. I bring this up because the root of the word inspiration is "breath."

bridget collage

For me, inspiration isn’t usually a flash of lightning or a burst of insight – though it does feel like that every now and then. Most of the time, it’s just like breathing. It’s something automatic that I experience all the time, like noticing colors in a tablecloth or the shape of plant’s bloom or the interesting pattern in the stained concrete. Like breathing, it’s something that nourishes me and keeps me going.

Inspiration breathing is something I get better at the more I do it and the harder I work my cardio-art-vascular system. It’s diving into a piece and listening, knowing what the next thing to do is. It’s getting stuck in a piece, glancing around, and then seeing three things I could try. It’s trying all three of those things, having none of them work, and then turning the piece upside down and trying something else, only to have it work and take me running off in a completely different direction.

Even when I’m tired, or not feeling “in the mood,” doing a quick collage or doodling with watercolors or sketching from a bird book can perk me up. Inspiration is part of an ongoing connection with my art making, and it gets stronger and easier the more I do it.

bridget bird

So, I’ve got to keep making. Otherwise, I end up wheezing and sweating and noodle-limbed, looking for the elevator. Or the couch.


Bridget Benton is an artist, writer, and teacher who loves to make things out of other things. Feel free to drop by her website, or her blog,

8 Responses

That’s a great description!!
Lately I’ve been so interested in the topic of Inspiration, creativity, where they come from…
Thank you for this post!

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This is great! I feel the same way about my art. I have to play everyday in my journal (even if it is just a little bit) or I feel totally cranky. It’s my way of getting my feelings out of me and onto paper. :)

This was a great inspiration! Thank you for that post!

Inspiration breathing — what a great description. It brings new meaning to the idea of use it or lose it in terms of the creative muscle, and also to the somewhat urgent concept of “create or die” ….although you expressed it in a much gentler way. Thank you for reminding us!

Bridget, your post comes at a great time as I master the art of meditation. Now that I feel I am “into it”, I can also experiment with it, as you describe. Thanks!

Bridget – I really enjoyed your post and it rang so true for me too! When I have gone for a few days without making any art, I start feeling so “blah” and the longer I go, the harder it is somehow to get that creative spark going again! Good reminder for me to not let that happen again.

I have just gone through your website and am so impressed and inspired by all the wonderful, inspiring workshops you do! Gosh – I wish I lived in the Portland, OR area so I could attend some. I have not found anyone yet in the Pittsburgh, PA area yet who offers things like you do.

Thanks for your post and your insights!

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who read and commented! Now, off to check out your sites . . . :) -Bridget

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