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The Creative Spark

Updated on November 3, 2014


Watercolor Study: Ironman
Watercolor Study: Ironman

Evaluating Source Material

Where do creative ideas come from? What sparks the desire to create and how can we evaluate source material to craft our art? The desire first starts as an intuitive hunch, a recognition inside of something needing to be expressed and shared.

I recently came across the above photograph of my friend, Tracy Darensbourg, on Facebook. Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way encourages what she calls "filling the well," which means the taking in of our world and being aware of it's specific components. Finding things that delight the senses and creating an inspirational folder that we can come to at a later time helps to "fill the well" of our creativity.

The first thing I noticed were all the green swimming caps. The repetition of frog green worn by the athletes creates a visual pattern, providing both perspective and harmony. The athletes, barely in the water, remind me of pier pilings at low tide. Pier pilings are what remains when the pier has ceased to be, so already there is a feeling of endurance and solidity in the visual narrative. Here the prominent red in the shirts worn by the two swimmers framing Tracy provide an excellent focusing device. Green and red are opposites on the color wheel and so the color contrast is very strong.

The other aspect of this photo that I like is the direction Tracy faces as opposed to everyone else. The green caps join them as a community, but Tracy's position also communicates the idea of individuality and the drive to stand out and be different. I plan to remove the pier in the background as well as the woman in the white t-shirt and visor and crop the image.

This photo was taken at an Ironman event and captures something of Tracy's inner state, his determination and stability, which makes for a good portrait.


When creating, which do you typically do first:

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    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 6 years ago

      Canopygallery, This was an interesting hub about the photograph. I would have come up with something different. Isn't that what Hub pages is for?


      The weeks of training

      The days and nights

      working toward this one goal

      stretch out behind me.

      Those encumbrances

      - allow me this day;

      - permit me to perform

      If only

      up to your expectations.

      I only hope I live up to mine.

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 7 years ago

      Hi Canopygallery, I have plenty of creative ideas, just not enough time to get to everything I want to do. And as I get older, I find that I can do about half the things I used to do in about twice the time I used to do it. Thus, I have to CHOOSE!

    • Canopygallery profile image

      James Elmore 8 years ago from Upper Lake, CA

      Thank you Jill for your comments, I will check out your hub on patterns. It's good to find a new Artist's Way friend!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 8 years ago from Philippines

      You sound like a visual artist from the way you analyzed the photo. I also like looking at patterns (check my hub on this), and I especially love it when something breaks the pattern as in this photo. Everything then looks more interesting.

      Thank you for sharing this. I love it!

      By the way, I too read Julia Cameron's The Artist Way plus her other books.