Inspiration: 10 Ways to unleash your Creativity and get Un-Stuck!

As I have mentioned in prior posts, fall is one of my very favorite seasons.  As if I needed another reason to love it,  there is an annual tradition in Boulder that I look forward to every year.  It is called "Open Studios" and takes place during the first two weekends in October.  What this means is that a group of local artists open their studios to the public.  You may purchase a map or download one for free and the maps are divided up by medium, location, children's activities, new artists, demonstrations, and accessibility. I have gone almost every year and, without fail, I return to my studio inspired, refreshed and with a new perspective!  Creativity has a common thread among all mediums and I love to speak to other artists about their process.  It is also beneficial for the artists since they tend to toil all day alone in their studios.  It is a fantastic opportunity to "talk shop" with other art enthusiasts and perhaps sell some art!

These little yellow signs are posted in front of the studios to help guide the way.

These little yellow signs are posted in front of the studios to help guide the way.

Another thing I love about the open studios is seeing other artist's workspaces.  They are as unique and different as the artists themselves.  Some artist's studios are impeccably organized with everything filed away and labeled in neatly organized drawers while other artists like to have everything out where they can see and use it.  

Work materials in the studio of the talented Melinda Myrow

Work materials in the studio of the talented Melinda Myrow

I was captivated by this wonderful table piled with art materials in the studio of Melinda Myrow. It was a piece of art in and of itself.  Melinda likes to work with a variety of different mediums and I love that she leaves her materials out to allow herself to be spontaneous and impulsive.  She told me I should come back during the year when it is not cleaned up for open studios.  I really enjoy how the studios can be a reflection of the artist's inner workings and  how this example really mirrors Melinda's playfulness and shows some insight into her process.  Isn't this just fab???

This got me thinking about inspiration. While currently I happen to be on inspiration overload, what about the times when your are tank is running on empty?  Maybe this is the perfect time to download some of this extra inspiration for the long uninspired post holiday months and create a list to jumpstart that inspiration again. Well firstly,  what does inspiration mean and how do I get me some o' that?  By definition, according to the dictionary, inspiration is ": something that makes someone want to do something or gives that someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone | : a person, place, experience, etc. that makes someone want to do or create something | : a good idea

Here are some ideas I came up with to fill up that tank on a cold winter's day or any day when you need that extra kick!

1. Get outside!  Sometimes the best remedy for feeling stuck is to get outside.  Get out and away from your technology and spend some time away from your desk.  There are many benefits to spending time outdoors.  Sunlight, in moderation, can be very beneficial to your mood and health.  While I won't quote all the scientific research on the healing benefits of the great outdoors, I can only say that from personal experience, a little sunshine and fresh air can be an instant mood recharger!  For me personally, a little nature goes a long way in the inspiration department!   I really need to take more of my own advice as often I am reluctant to leave the workspace when the to-do list is piled high but have never regretted it after the fact!

Bring your camera on a little walk and see what you can find along the way.

Bring your camera on a little walk and see what you can find along the way.

2. Move Your Body.  Exercise benefits your mind and body in so many ways!  I know this is the obvious and boring one to point out but there is no time ever when I have regretted getting some exercise!! It is an instant mood pick-me-up and many great ideas have popped into my head while running.  Maybe all that blood pumping and sweating out of toxins makes room for better things!!  It doesn't have to be traditional, either!  Dancing, swimming, frisbee, Zumba or whatever floats your boat!  Get that blood pumping!  O.K., now that we tackled the boring ones..........how about these next few?

3. Make a Mood Board.  By definition, this is an "arrangement of materials that evoke a style or concept".  This can be whatever you want it to be but a lot of us are visual people and the act of picking things out that you are attracted to and putting them all together in one place is a great way to get inspired! You can do this using magazines, glue and poster board if you are tactile. This does not have to be expensive.  I often find inspiration from catalogs that come in the mail. Ask a friend or neighbor if they are recycling old magazines or see if the library might have some cast offs!  If you are of the "no muss-no fuss" variety, just use pinterest.  A virtual visual buffet of inspiration!!!!

4. Craft Cross Training.  Have you ever heard of cross training in terms of athletics?  Basically, in order to strengthen all muscle groups and not over use others, athletes-in-training will cross over to other sports.  For example,  maybe a runner will alternate between running and swimming.  Well, the same rings true for art and creativity.  When you are stuck or in "over-use" mode sometimes the best thing to do is try something else.  Play with a new medium, take up a new hobby, cook a new recipe or wherever your heart leads you! Many times it can bleed over and give you new perspective and inspiration!!!!  I love to peruse the used bookstore in our area. I make a bee-line for the craft section and see what I can find.  There is almost always, without fail, something of interest to be found!  Heck, a walk through the local craft store might even jar an idea loose!  Try a new class or workshop!  It can do wonders.

When stuck with my watercolors,  I took this fabulous collage workshop.  This is never something I would have made on my own but I had a great time and mashed up my art in a new and fun way.  It doesn't have to be a masterpiece as long as you are having a ball! Weird isn't it?

When stuck with my watercolors,  I took this fabulous collage workshop.  This is never something I would have made on my own but I had a great time and mashed up my art in a new and fun way.  It doesn't have to be a masterpiece as long as you are having a ball! Weird isn't it?

5. Find your Peeps.  Some of the best inspiration I get is from meeting with other-like minded friends!  Sharing ideas inspires other ideas and like a toddler with the stomach bug, that stuff is contagious!!! Go meet your bestie for some pumpkin spice coffee and have an inspiration-fest.  If you are really feeling sassy, gather up a group of your artsy BFFs and take a weekend long creative retreat.  There is nothing like surrounding yourself with OPCP (other people's creative processes)!!!

6. Dream-spiration.  Use your dreams as creative inspiration.  Sometimes your dreams, when you remember them can unleash some weird and wonderful things to inspire your creativity and let's face it, it's cheaper than therapy!! One of the artists who used to participate in the open studios painted strictly from her dreams.  I asked her how she remembered her dreams and she told me her tried-and-true technique was to tell herself right before she fell asleep that she would remember her dreams.  Sounds a little hokey but I tried it and, believe it or not,  it did work for me.  If that doesn't work, maybe try eating a hot dog before bed (haha, just kidding).  Seriously, though, if you are someone who remembers some of your dreams, give it a try!!

A sketch I did about a dream in which my teeth fell out.  Well, o.k. maybe a nightmare, but you catch my drift!

A sketch I did about a dream in which my teeth fell out.  Well, o.k. maybe a nightmare, but you catch my drift!

7. Find the "muse" in Museum.  If you you are lucky enough to live close to a museum, plan a day trip and get your inspiration pants on!  Those that came before you have lots to tell you!  They stir up imagination, offer knowledge, and can bring new flair to your work.  If you are not close to a museum or cultural center, no need to worry.  Try your local library and, of course the internet.

I was inspired by this painting at the Denver Art Museum.  What you can barely see because of my poor photography is that his whole head is made of vegetables.  An old-school prankster! Loved this among the more serious paintings. Message received; don't be afraid to be yourself!! Or is it, you are what you eat?  It doesn't matter!  If it moved you and made you think, mission accomplished!

I was inspired by this painting at the Denver Art Museum.  What you can barely see because of my poor photography is that his whole head is made of vegetables.  An old-school prankster! Loved this among the more serious paintings. Message received; don't be afraid to be yourself!! Or is it, you are what you eat?  It doesn't matter!  If it moved you and made you think, mission accomplished!

8. Be inspired by those you admire.  I love to watch a documentary or read an autobiography about someone whose lifetime achievements I admire.  Just this morning I watched a PBS special on Walt Disney.  What an amazing visionary!  I really admire people who dedicate their lives to mastering a craft they were (or still are) passionate about. Another fine example is the Keith Richards documentary called Under the Influence. Keith Richards discusses how the creative process is something he taps into rather than seeks.  I thought that was a rather fascinating concept that the process already exists and that you are just tuning into it vs. actively seeking it.   Another wonderful documentary is called Jiro Dreams of Sushi in which a  man dedicates his whole life to the art of making Sushi.  See what I mean about the medium not mattering?  To me, it's the passion, persistence, and dedication that inspire me.  Find a person you admire and live vicariously!

9. Books, Books, Books!  There are many fantastic books that give you exercises to inspire creativity.  Perhaps they provide blank pages and ask you to fill them or half drawn pictures you need to complete.  There are tons!  See which one might appeal to you!!  Go ahead, try googling "books to inspire creativity" and a treasure trove of inspiration will pop up.

10. Do it. Sometimes just sitting down and getting down to business can really help you work right through a block.  Sometimes I search the house, outside in the yard, or even a local thift shop to find a simple object and force myself to sit down and draw it.  Almost always, it greases the so-called creative wheel and I'm back on track.

So there you have it!! A few simple ways to bring on the inspiration!  Hope you enjoyed this and maybe took a few useful nuggets that may come in handy!

Very warmly,

Pam