Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Got Inspiration Block - Try This!

I belong to a great Yahoo group – Metal Clay Gallery. Actually, I belong to several great Yahoo groups, but this post came out of a discussion on the MCG group about ‘Art Fear’. There were many interesting contributions, but this one jumped out at me, perhaps because at the moment I am going through a period of lack of inspiration and/or the ability to create what I feel are ‘good’ designs; it was, I think, so genuinely and joyously put that I just had to ask to use it for a post on how to overcome Inspiration Block.

So here it is – from Ann Davis

Note: All images are the sole property of Ann Davis, please do not download or use without obtaining her prior permission

You have a journal...right...every artist must have a journal. I have a dozen or so...some I write and sketch in and some I just draw in.

Ok, once you have your very own special journal get your special favorite pencil or colored ink pen in your hand...sometimes writing in green ink for the day just helps you think...another day it might be purple!! I have a whole pack of colored pens!

Beyond fear most artists need focus!! So I thought I would share the way I get it...maybe it will help somebody focus/think...THINKING is good!! I never do enough of it!!!

So to start.....

Make a list of 10 things you are fascinated with right could be ancient alphabets, flowers, pebbles, birds. Art Deco, frogs. the sea....what ever, things you just love.
Leave some room between the listings, there is more to write.

The Special Magic
Now under the listings tell yourself why you are fascinated by each thing, what it's 'special magic' is for you.... I kind of think of it as a magical thought...a magical seed of an idea as it were...for instance, if you say you like birds...then what aspect are you drawn to...feathers, if so...local birds or tropical feathers??....little feet??...they way they swoop in flight?? WRITE IT DOWN and sketch if something pops up, don't ever deny that quick click of an idea.
If it's ancient alphabets...then make a list of the ones you like,
Latin, Greek, what are going to gather these things UP!!

Get Out
When you have your 10 things done and fleshed out, you need to take your list and get out of the house/studio/bedroom...sometimes just being in the 'same' environment triggers the same old thoughts...go to a library and look up books on each subject you listed and try to find the kinds of things you listed as your magical seeds. Xerox those pages or check out the books.

Ammo Up
Now you have your seed ideas, you need some ammunition. Go to your favorite junk store/craft store/hobby store/nursery where you are going to look for anything that reminds you of those magical aspects...doesn't have to be the same exact if you listed could buy feathers at a craft store but.... they may have some fabric with feathers printed on it that just fits the bill…or...some angel wings…could just be the shape of the feather...pick up little bits and pieces of stuff that catches your eye and stays on your theme.

Take it all home. Lay it out in front of you.

Plant the Seed
Now....Start a new page for each magical if you bought feathers or seashells...put them on the page and draw around their shapes or sketch them if you draw well...if you sculpt with polymer, start copying...yes copying exactly what you have in your hand. Often the making of an object gives way to something else in your mind…your hands and the way it feels are part of the magical seed information going into your brain;))...keep writing on that page, the little bits and pieces of the exact aspect that you like about the it comes together or how it's shaped...the color…the texture...REALLY give it your attention...Now you will know these things inside and out and once you know your really own it!
Play Mad Inventor
Next is the fun part...start mixing the pieces...put the feather in the shell or if you picked up a silly plastic frog…put him on the feather or, or put the frog on the shell with the feather sticking up....Start imagining these things as metal clay. (or whatever your medium is) Start LAUGHING!! You should get some really weird ideas...draw them out no matter how funny they seem...these are the seeds of your imagination playing with each's a form of cross fertilization...very good stuff.

If you have really thrown yourself into this exercise you should start having all kinds of silly ideas, a frog covered in ancient alphabets...or a frog with wings...a shell with wings or imprints of the feather all over it. Go with one of your visions...make it a reality...put it into metal clay!!...even if the first thing you make is not perfect, guess are working!!! Keep going!! More than likely you will discover that you need to perfect some other technique to get your 'vision' perfect...throw yourself into it, then when you have mastered it come back to you magical seeds and realize that dream!!

Well anyway, for what it's worth, in a nutshell, that's the way I jumpstart my work.

Now I tend to either take pix or make copies of stuff and glue them into my journal, plus I have acquired so much junk that I could open my own craft store;))hahaha we won't even go into the time I was fascinated by all the variations of raffia out there or my collection of sand from all over the world, or how that looks under a microscope;)

So last week I was mulling over the Masters Register pieces and trying to decide what to make next and I spent several hours going through my journals and ended up spell bound by a section on hand made iron gates...yes I have wonky entries!! and the kuemboo spoon project just popped into my head full blown. So I sketched it out, figured out how I could make it and just threw myself into it while the idea was still hot!!

So there you have it – if you’re like me and going through the doldrums in your artistic world right now, doesn’t that just hype you up? Thank you so much Ann for agreeing to share this on Explore Arts.

And you, the reader, do you keep journals?

What method(s) do you use to keep the creative juices flowing and to turn the ‘everyday’ into a great piece of art?

Do share your experiences here – and feel free to share this wonderful little coaching session on getting out of Inspiration Block too!

See you here next time! On your way out, do take a look at some of Ann’s wonderful work at

Wishing you all lots of inspiration!


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