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A Creative’s Inspiration Pool

Updated on August 14, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

I'm a reader.  I love a good book to pull me out of the dumps and to take me away.
I'm a reader. I love a good book to pull me out of the dumps and to take me away. | Source

I’m Creative

I’m a creative type. You know the type. We were the people no one wanted to sit with in high school but now everyone wants to be us. We were the weirdo’s and geeks, the ones normal popular people made fun of, but now we are the Steve Jobs and the Bill Gates types. We didn’t fit in then and still don’t. The world just doesn’t seem to hear our drum, much less march to it.

Creativity is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So that makes me a sweaty creative.

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

— Maya Angelou
The Dandelion Fairy
The Dandelion Fairy | Source

Untrustworthy

The creative types are notoriously unorganized and scattered. We naturally procrastinate and often feel we work better under pressure when the deadline is looming in front of us like a vulture. However, that often makes us untrustworthy and flakey. Because of this, I have several things that keep me focused and organized.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

— Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr Seuss
The Blue Fairy
The Blue Fairy | Source

Binders of Photos

If you are like me you keep a file of possibilities. When I was much younger I would tear photos out of magazines to paint from in the future. Later, when I wanted to enter more art shows and work illustrations for a living, I gave up magazine photos that are already copyrighted. That is plagiarism to use those. I began taking my own photos to work from and kept binders of them for reference long ago. Now that everything is digital, I have photo files ready at a moments notice without having to leaf through countless binders. I keep these organized under themes and subject so that they are easier for me to find and keep me from wasting time unnecessarily when I need something specific for reference. My biggest problem with searching is that it is too easy to get distracted and forget altogether what I was searching for in the first place.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

— Cat in the Hat, by Dr Seuss
Mushroom Fairy
Mushroom Fairy | Source

What do you do to kickstart your creativity?

See results
The Water Fairy
The Water Fairy | Source

“It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends.”

— Snow White by Brothers Grimm

Sketchbook Ideas

Beyond that, I keep a sketchbook with rough ideas that come to me at random times, like in bed when I’m half asleep and even in the shower. I usually have to dry off before jotting down my ideas then. There is nothing like the ideas we get in the shower, is there? Keeping a sketch file of ideas is one of the best ways to jumpstart the creative process. I often start with one idea, and before I know it, it morphs into something else even better.

Sketchbooks are also good ways to develop thoughts. One idea may be okay but if you draw it over and over from different angles in different formats (like landscape vs portrait) you end up with even better ideas.

Fairy Muse
Fairy Muse | Source

Creative Journals

I have a number of friends who keep creative journals. In these journals, they have pages they call “Brain Dumps” where they just put random ideas and thoughts that they could develop later but would be gone forever if they didn’t jot them down. Some of these journals are filled with artwork and sketches, others have photos and inspirational sayings. Most journals are just that; journaling thoughts and events of the day.

The ones that inspired me most had a theme for the month, opened with the monthly calendar and events the person wanted to keep track of for that month, like finances or YouTube tracking or Yoga tracking. Each one is customizable to your own needs and creativity. It so inspired me that I started keeping my own more than a year ago and I haven’t stopped yet. I can look back over the months and see how my focus has changed and how my goals have changed as well. It is a very creative idea to keep organized.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

— Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rawling
Lavender Fairy
Lavender Fairy | Source

Possibilities

Colossal is a good online curation of creative work that may inspire you. Subscribe and get an email about once a week or every other week with about 5 featured creative artists and their work. I find it a great way to see what others are doing and also to friend or follow them on social media for further inspiration.

Fairy Sisters
Fairy Sisters | Source

“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”

— Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Ronald Dahl

What Inspires You?

Create an inspiration list of your own, adding any items you think are important for you to remember. You can do this in a creative journal or just a notebook for your use.

Once you have created your list, take a look at the art that has inspired you. What is it about the pieces that inspire you the most? Is it repetition? Is it a variety of shape? Check the piece against your list, and see which items are utilized most, which are not used so much, and which are not used at all.

Skye Fairy
Skye Fairy | Source

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

— Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Dinosaur Tamer
Dinosaur Tamer | Source

“We all can dance when we find music that we love.”

— Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Reading Books

I am a reader. I read everything from biographies to self-help books, my Bible to classic novels and even children’s books. I think my favorite will always be children’s books. There is no sex or violence, no drugs or controversy but still, important issues are addressed and dealt with by the protagonist.

I get some of my best ideas from reading. I like to read Young Adult fantasy novels. They can open up the imagination in a way you may not guess. The smallest phrase or dialog can spark a thought, which turns into an idea for me. I have always believed that books hold a wealth of knowledge and creativity if we only take the time to find it.

Floating Fairy
Floating Fairy | Source

“The moment where you doubt you can fly, you cease forever being able to do it.”

— Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the ideas I use to keep the creative juices flowing. They can be used by writers just as much as artists and illustrators. Try what works for you and see if it isn’t a good fit. If you have any questions or thoughts share them with me below in the comments.

India Fairy
India Fairy | Source

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      Heidi Thorne,

      You are very sweet to say so. I think someone who has a way with words to be so awesome. I struggle for each word but images come to me with little provocation. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      23 months ago from Chicago Area

      Whether it's writing or art, it's always good to have a way to capture those unpredictable flashes of creativity. Thanks for sharing your tips with us!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Lum,

      I'm so happy you like my little fairy creations. The Muse is even harder to follow when writing with wet hands in the shower because I get so many of my inspirations there. Haha. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      Kathy Henderson,

      How encouraging you are. If I made you smile with my work, you have made my day. I'm glad that the children's books quotes spoke to you especially Dr Seuss. I love that one too. Thanks for commuting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      23 months ago from Washington State, USA

      A pad of paper and pencil on my nightstand. If not for those I would spend many more sleepless nights, fighting to stay awake to remember my inspiration until morning. (Thank goodness I've the knack for writing "almost' legibly in the dark).

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts; all of us have that creative spark, the difference is listening to that Muse, paying attention when she speaks to you.

      By the way, your fairy creations are exquisite.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      Kathy Henderson 

      23 months ago from Pa

      Wow, Denise, your pictures are exquisite. I would think little ones especially would be mesmerized by a book full of your vision.

      My creativity is all over the place at times. I was a singer in my youth and met with a bit of fame for a time. I loved to draw but it was not my gift. While I have a published book, I am the biggest critique. I was encouraged by my Docs to write a memoir and then lived to tell the story. I write for a purpose, and from the heart. Many are critical, however, I will stand on the quote you shared from Dr. Seuss.

      “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

      — Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

      To touch one person with a piece of my heart makes me smile. I hope you realize your artistry brings smiles to the faces of those that view your work.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lora Hollings,

      Those smart phones are sure handy. I just got one and I'm still learning the ins and outs of the features it has. I just discovered yesterday that it has a calendar. I'll have to go looking for audio notes so I can leave some for myself as well. Thanks for the inspirational tool and for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      Very good inspirations as well. I don't get to get out and meet people very often so I can't claim that as inspiration but I admire people who do. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      Mary Norton,

      Those are good sources for inspiration too. Thanks for sharing that and commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      23 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I do like to read and it is mostly from this that I get my inspiration. I also love to go for walks and watch people or just enjoy nature. This is my other source.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      23 months ago

      Really informative article Denise with lots of advice. I tend to be inspired by the people I meet or by getting out into nature and writing down my feelings and thoughts. Thank you for inspiring me.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      23 months ago

      These are just wonderful ideas, Denise, for harnessing our creativity and igniting our imaginations! I keep a journal for writing many ideas down for potential stories and often my original thoughts later become a more refined poem with many editions to the original draft. Another tool that I find useful is to record a random thought or an outline that I might have for a future story in my voice memos on my smart phone. Thank you for a very inspiring article that offers great ideas in becoming more creative.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      23 months ago from Fresno CA

      John Hansen,

      That's awesome. Exactly what I was getting at. This week I found an old journal from 2004 and was reading some notes I took while visiting the beach. It inspired me so much I'm going to write something about it later and use some drawings I did also. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      23 months ago from Gondwana Land

      A very relevant and helpful article, Denise. I keep a journal or notebook with me at all times. I have one in my study, another in the dining room, and one in my bag if I am going out. Whenever I get an idea or inspiration I jot it down...most develope into poems eventually, or articles. The books are also littered with doodles throughout as I often draw randomly as I write or think.

      If I am lacking inspiration I often turn to my book-shelves and get inspired by a book title. what results rarely has any connection to what the book is about.

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