Can’t start a fire without a Spark…

August 3rd, 2010

I woke up with that line in my head, part of a Bruce Springsteen song. How true! And what a fitting way to start the month of Fire, talking about what sparks our imagination, what fires us up creatively, the ways small and large that we move from idea to creation.

Just the way that I woke up with this song in my head is a good example of where my ideas come from. The hypnagogic state, that fuzzy land between sleep and being awake, where the mind is more open and ideas often come fast and furious. I love to keep some paper and pens on my nightstand so that I can jot them down while half asleep, because sometimes I will remember the ideas and other times, they slip away as I'm waking up.

Bits of song, dream images, short phrases, little bits of shadow, and memory will often be the spark behind an idea that leads to a creation. A spark is just the starting point. It won't always develop the way it first began, just like a fire won't always spread the way you expect. I like that bit of surprise that happens as an idea transitions from spark to form. But it's also just interesting to see where ideas come from. Sometimes the most unexpected places, like the shape of a leaf or the color combination on a billboard. And sometimes ideas seem to come out of nowhere.

Where do your sparks of inspiration come from?

Pay special attention this month, catch them as they come like the girl in "Catching Stars" above, and see which sparks become full fires!

17 Responses

Great way to start the day off, listening to the boss!! Thanks Leah =)

i tried writing where my ideas come from on my blog awhile back but just couldn’t put it into the words that made sense. you did it so well in your post today.

Your girl: oh, how I love her star catching bucket… I take note of them in my notebook usually… or in my computer files… I always have writing paper with me…. and since my writing practice is to begin first thing every morning with writing, this helps a lot.

I love this theme of FIRE. I am in the midst of another Writing Camp and we gather around the Camp Fire each teleseminar session… so the analogy is loved and treasured.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by HiroBoga and Leah Piken Kolidas, Paul The Bulletman. Paul The Bulletman said: #askforhelp for a spark of creativity? Nice trigger… RT @leah_art: "Can't light a fire without a spark." #ced2010 [...]

Leah, love this post. I do exactly the same thing i.e. keeping my inspiration book nearby my bed. Right now, in the month of fire, I am experiencing the most intense idea fountain of the year. My work is going through such a huge transformation it is unrecognizable to me!

I research via Twitter, linking to a lot of museum and artist’s sites for inspiration. Just yesterday I wrote a top “10 sites to be inspired by” blog.

I’m traveling to Boston end of the month; perhaps we’ll get to meet in person should the fates decide it’s a good idea ;-) If not, have an awesome August and I’ll see you online.


This gorgeous image has an autumnal feel and like many of your pieces, is very evocative and moody–a sort of deep creative melancholy tinged with hope.

Your sparks painting is magical!

Fire sparking and star catching. Yessssss!!!!!
Thank you for feeding the flames this month.
signed, your friendly neighborhood Sagittarian

The Spark… Sometimes it comes from the music I’m listening to, sometimes it comes from sitting in silence and just listening to my heart.
Sometimes inspiration comes from something another person says, or one of the various blogs I read (including this one). I find that most of my inspiration comes just as I’m falling asleep, and I always keep a notebook or pen and paper with me just in case.

I love yr painting very much – really lovely.

Often an idea just floats into my head and I don’t know where it comes from. But I always right it down because try as I might, I never remember it. I too keep a notebook in my messenger bag at all times.

The fire theme is perfect for me. I’m fired up about finishing my Bachelors (at the end of September!), and I’m working with a career counselor to find alternative work outside the nursing profession. It’s an exciting time, full of possibilities.

OOh, beutiful, haunting painting. I just may have to try a fire themed zentangle. Or maybe an abstract watercolor with fire as the theme. THanks for the inspiration!

This has been my theme song for a while now! Good blog!

What an interesting question. My sparks come from everywhere, but usually they happen when I am sort of paying attention. That place between wake and sleep or listening to sermons or lecture,when I have the space and time to let my mind wander. Some times ideas are sparked by other ideas – a commercial, a billboard, a painting, a poem. I have a really hard time capturing them. I should carry a notebook, but more often I capture sparks in the margins of notebook or church bulletins. Making a better effort to capture in a more organized way is a great goal for this month. Thanks.

Another wonderful painting, Leah! My ideas come from all over the place. They tend to come in spurts, like recently I’ve been inspired by a particular artist – Art Smith. So I’ve been thinking about new ideas for collars. I’ve found inspiration in dreams/meditation, in interesting shapes outside, and by lying on the grass and watching the vultures float over my house. Sometimes they come directly from the metal while I’m working with it.

I try to make every corner of my world look like a visual gumdrop. My studio is full of fire, and everywhere I look in it, I see colorful flames that light me up with creativity. I’m working diligently to finish up my new studio. Here’s a peek at it.

The CED themes you’ve selected for us have been perfect, Leah! Thank you!!!

Leah, this is beautiful. *Love* your site.

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