Inspiration 101

We live in a pretty darned wonderful corner of the planet.

It may not be Paris or Rome or New York or Vienna or any other world-renowned art community, but Stone Mills Township is home to many artists working with a host of different media.  Our galleries, art shows and studio tours boast some pretty spectacular work created by talented local artists.

Artists have to start somewhere.  There has to be a nugget of an idea that sets root and grows into a piece of art, something that inspires them to create.  Almost a thousand years ago, St. Francis of Assisi wrote that artists are people who work not only with their hands and heads, but also with their hearts  –  that they not only possess the tools and the knowledge to produce something, but they have the spirit and emotion to make that something art.

What draws an artist to sit with a cello, or write a play, or work wool around knitting needles, or pick up a pastel, paintbrush, hunk of clay or glasscutter?  Where do they find the inspiration to create a piece of art?

The answer is as individual as the artist.

I can find inspiration right outside my front door.  The Middle of Nowhere Road on which we live meanders through trees and rock cuts and Canadian sky.  It is my habit to walk this road where I can be in Nature’s version of quiet –  where I can spend time in my own head  –  where I can immerse myself in the landscape and the earthy colour and smells  and the freshness in spirit  that walking brings me, then take it all back with me to the studio.  For some reason, a lot of my work features trees, rock cuts and Canadian sky.  Imagine that.

Sometimes, inspiration finds me when I’m far away from The Middle of Nowhere Road.  I spent some time in Florida this winter.  The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is in a pretty classy part of Florida  –  I’m pretty sure we don’t have to pass the hat for the people who live in the mansions in the same neighbourhood  –  and it really isn’t a very big museum, but the collections of glass art by Louis Comfort Tiffany that are displayed in this building put me in glass heaven during my visit there.  I looked and pondered and wondered and ached to touch it all till my soul was full. (I set the alarm off once in an effort to drink it all in as I leaned too far over a rail separating me from a stunning piece!)  After visiting the gallery rooms, there were no words in me, just awe and a fresh perspective.   I’d had an intimate glimpse of how Tiffany looked “outside the box” in designing and building his pieces.  I now look forward to building a piece of plated glass in my own studio inspired by Tiffany’s artistry.

Creative inspiration ignites when experiences tingle our emotions.  Sure, you can walk  down the street and be struck by a creative lightning bolt out of the blue  –  the “ah ha!” moment, if you will  –  but I’d wager that oft-times inspiration is subtler than that, that it wiggles its way into our brains after taking in a film, or attending a concert, or listening to the tones of a conversation in another language, or seeing the colour of a Jamaican sky, or remembering the swirly shape of the bottom of a wedding dress as the bride tossed her bouquet, or watching snatches of life happening outside the living room window, or visiting a hospital, or smelling Spring, or looking at people gesturing as they talk, or realizing that Uncle Ivan is getting old, or listening to owls, or watching a 2-year-old run down a hill, or noticing a peculiarly shaped tree, or holding your grandchild for the very first time…

You may wonder about your own creative inspiration.  Maybe good food enjoyed at a local restaurant  inspired you to cook and present a gourmet meal.  Perhaps finding green shoots springing up by the roadside inspired you to think about designing your own garden.  Or did a piece of music inspire you to make up and dance your own dance?

There will be many events held this coming year featuring the work of our talented local artists.  Give yourself a worthy outing and visit some of these events.  May you find your own inspiration as you meet the exhibiting artists and peruse the work that came from their hands, their heads and their hearts.


Inspiration 101 was published in The Scoop April 2013