What are your sources of inspiration?

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AnLiNa wrote
on 8 Jun 2009 4:50 PM

As I was reading some of the other posts on the "How Often" topic, I started wondering about inspiration. 

I have several sources for inspiration - but most of them seem to be things that trigger a thought in my head and sometimes a full blown picture.  Like I'll hear a piece of music or a word or phrase, maybe a poem and I'll get a visual image of that.

I don't often want to make something I see.  I guess that's the difference.  I want to make the pictures in my head, not the ones I see in the outer world. 

I just don't always know how to trigger the internal dialogue.  But when the dialogue starts, it's usually fast and furious with lots of ideas.  That's why I have my idea book, to capture them all and the notes of any details I come up with.

What inspires you?  Can you turn the process on/off consciously?  How do you capture your ideas?


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on 8 Jun 2009 9:06 PM

One of my biggest sources for inspiration is my garden and back yard. It's a green, shady home to dozens and dozens of birds of all species (I make up my own birdy mix to be sure to offer a wide selection), tons of moths and butterflies, squirrels, hummingbirds and insects of all variety. We've spent years cultivating the gardens, so they are always full of color and lush greenery.

Here's a photo of a hibiscus bloom I took a couple of days ago...

... and this will be printed, sandwiched and quilted in the next few days.



- Judi

My Blog   My Art


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geniebird wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 5:49 AM

Life and Spirit.  Guess I could have pretty much said everything, huh?  I do a lot of nature work, a lot of specifically spiritual/religous work, some political commentary all with a few jokes and stories sprinkled in. 

My inspiration/creativity seems to come in great big bursts, and no, unfortunately, I can't turn it on or off at will.  The down times can be the hardest, but I think we always need to be open to inspiration and prepared to just go with it when it hits.  I'm a very visual person and often think in pictures so I usually see pictures of the finished work in my head.  I don't really make notes or sketches, I just try to go ahead and get started while the ideas are fresh.  I've learned the hard way not to try to force things when I'm not inspired. 

Back in the days when I was doing clothing and jewelry design I would dream new ideas.  Actually I would make the garment or jewlery piece from start to finish.  The dreams were so real that in the morning I would be confused and disappointed when I couldn't find the finished project.

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pandabolt wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 8:23 AM

In no particular order:  Browsing through my journals; re-reading CPS or QA; perusing back issues of selective quilt magazines, particularly Quilt Mania; a well-crafted phrase; the wind in the trees; the glint of sunshine on the water or coming through the mini-blinds onto house plants; other people's work; studying technique books. Dreams often inspire a deeper study of emotion that may fall into the next piece of work.  (In fact, one dream eventually became a book I recently published!)  I love going to the University Book Store art department, or to Michaels.  I check out unfamiliar aisles to see what undiscovered riches I might find.


LOL.  In other words: just about anything will be my inspiration if other conditions are amenable. 


I'm not sure where your question is coming from, but if you are finding yourself in a space of non-creativity right now, then I would suggest that you let that happen.  Down time is sometimes the most productive time in terms of assessment and rest.

Enjoy the world around you.  Take the time to catch up on reading.  And it doesn't need to be art-related reading, either.  Sometimes I find the most interesting use of phrases and descriptions in easy-read novels.  If it is your own book, circle it.  Or paint the page, or glue in some fabric scraps, or glue in a permanent book mark on that page.  I have a journal of just quotes and phrases.  (Always reference the original source, because you never know when you might want to read it in context again.  And I date them as well, just to watch my own development.)

You may not use the phrase itself, but it will bring you pleasure and perhaps trigger a sense of color or design that you hadn't thought about.

Years ago, I took a series of pictures of a baseball field.  I have never reproduced that particular picture with its criss-crossed mown paths, but I certainly have used the grid concept, and worked with transparency in color because of the pictures.  So, just because you don't think you will ever use a design, still take the picture.  You never know when it will be your next inspiration.

I take my camera with me everywhere.  Whenever I see something interesting, I snap the shot.  I have a huge file of trees, another of clouds, another or "texture". 

And if nothing else gets done, at least try to find a little time regularly to just experiment with techniques.  Pop the result in a journal with lots of notes on what you did for future reference.


Accept the non-inspired times as times of rest and readiness.  I find that I can go several weeks without doing much in the art department, then all of a sudden ideas are coming from every direction.


Peggy Holt

Missoula, Montana


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on 9 Jun 2009 9:03 AM

Amy - I'm a bit like you - I can "see" things very clearly and know what I want to make and how.  Its weird cos I can't get that down into my sketchbooks, but I can make it virtually as seen!!!

I love words, sometimes they influence what I make, but the title of a piece is also very important for me.  I'm almost finished on making a sculptural book - its content is just stitched lines.   Its a long strip of paper which folds into rectangles and then into triangles - so hunting on line this morning for a word(s) of suitable meaning - I've found "Plicature" - it means the art of folding.

Currently I've a thing about 'doors'.  Last year I believe there was a blog project where one specific day people uploaded pics of doors.  It just struck something with me, as being a really easy topic to gather info on.  So right now I've got about 60 picutres of doors (and a few windows).  I don't know if they will come to anything - so far my design efforts have concentrated on the peeling paint seen on a few.

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on 9 Jun 2009 9:05 AM

PS - I can't resist hanging out of the window to take sky pictures - getting quite a collection of those now too.

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AnLiNa wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 11:38 AM

I asked the question out of curiousity more than any specific need on my part.  I'm at a point where I have more ideas than I have time, which is a good point to be. 

It's taken me a number of years, but I've managed to find a system that works for me.  I have a day job which is not at all art related - in fact very left brain.  For a long time, I found that interfering with my ability to come up with ideas.  Once I started writing down those fleeting thoughts and ideas, and using that list as the stimulus for new work when I was in a creative black hole, I began to be able to manage my creative spells. 

I still can't call up new ideas at will - but I can work around the periods of stress and a clogged creative pipe so that I can still start something new.

I find that I'm very fascinated by how other people work and come up with stuff.  One of my favorite series of books is by Rice Freeman Zachary (Living the Creative LIfe) which talks about how Artists make time for Art.  I see so many wonderful pieces of art and wonder "How?" and "Why?".

I did a quilt several  years ago that was pictures of Doors.  I took pictures of old and interesting doors, printed them on paper - fused it to interfacing and sewed them into a quilt.  I'll post a picture later today.



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on 9 Jun 2009 1:12 PM

Amy, I know what you mean about being interested in how other people work.  I hate to admit this, but I became a Project Runway fan.  I loved watching them come up with answers (or not) to the project of the week.  It like seeing how their creativity worked.  And this is the woman who lives in jeans and flannel shirts.

I am a poet first, everything else came after the poetry, and many of my quilted pieces are based on poems.  I also do a lot of photography, and being rural it almost all comes under the heading 'nature'.  I have a huge collection of older 35mm pictures and now digital pictures that often end up in the piece somewhere.

I spend a lot of time when the weather is good painting fabric, so that when winter hits, I have a lot of bits that I can spark off to get something going.  What I've realized lately is that most of the fabric is autumnal.  I really need to do some spring stuff.  I guess in spring and early summer (now) I'm too busy in the gardens.  Oh, yeah, I have a LOT of gardens.






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flowerw4me wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 1:55 PM

I have this hibicus growing indoors and I to take many pictures of it , I would love to see your finished quilted peice..

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on 9 Jun 2009 2:44 PM

Katrose - me too I lurve Project Runway - (awaiting the latest via Freeview, but don't know if/when it will appear, I dont have satellite tv).  I'm exactly like you, like watchng the creative process, you can almost see their brains ticking away.  I had a lightbulb moment whilst watching one episode, when they were challenged to make an avant garde piece from their inspirational item.  I looked and thought wow - why don't you do that, make something totally whacky from your ideas, as well as the more 'sensible' option.

At the moment I had a flood of ideas for projects, I've a few pages of notes, my problem is I don't have THE one - the idea which is screaming you just have to make this.  So I'm getting on with other stuff.

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AnLiNa wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 5:05 PM

Speaking of inspiration from fashion - I loved the costumes for the opening ceremonies in the Olympics.  I didn't get to see all of it and have been hunting for the video.  I just found it this weekend and plan to watch it one night this week while I'm beading my dragon.  I just know there are some dolls and/or quilts in there.

When I don't have "the" idea, I go through my fabric stash and start pulling out pieces that pique my interest.  I think it's the color that does it, but after an hour or so of that, I have the urge back and a pile of fabric I think I want to use.  Then I figure out if I have an idea to go with the fabric.  If not, I just start making a doll body to dress or a small quilt and see if it ends up going anywhere.  More of the dolls get finished than the quilt pieces.  But the quilt pieces will one day end up finished or in pieces in other quilts.


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AnLiNa wrote
on 9 Jun 2009 5:13 PM


Currently I've a thing about 'doors'.  Last year I believe there was a blog project where one specific day people uploaded pics of doors.  It just struck something with me, as being a really easy topic to gather info on.  So right now I've got about 60 picutres of doors (and a few windows).  I don't know if they will come to anything - so far my design efforts have concentrated on the peeling paint seen on a few.

Here's the piece I did with doors.  I had so much fun collecting the pictures and even got some of my family in on the hunt.


If you want to see close-ups, you can go to my website at the following link:




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thegrita wrote
on 10 Jun 2009 9:39 AM

I love the doors is so cool. I have been on a rusty vehicle kick for several months and have found a natural talent in creating art with there photographs. Like you other people are now in on it by taking photo's of rusty stuff they think I will like. As of yet I have only used my own photography and end up asking where they took the photo's and go there myself to get my own shots. I am still trying to find the old rusty school bus a friend gave me pics of back at easter.Other ways is to take Sunday drive in country on my motorcycle and take pictures along the way. There is always something that interests me from georgeous vistas to cows. I never know where these bits of inspiration will show up but I tryed to be prepared when they do.

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AnLiNa wrote
on 10 Jun 2009 5:30 PM

Thanks Rita.  Rusty can definitely be cool.  I am often drawn to old architecture and buildings that are falling down.  I take pictures, but none have made it into my quilting or other work yet.


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