Welcome to the new WCT, and this week I wanted to bring into its own thread a topic that's been touched upon in various other places in recent days on CCS.
That is, how we gather inspiration, and how we then let it percolate, or not, before we create something from it.
So, the three questions to consider this week are:
1. What ways do you actively seek and gather inspiration? Do you need to be in a certain frame of mind? Do you go to certain places?
2. When you have a new idea you feel excited about, how long do you need to let it simmer and percolate in your mind before you start consciously working on developing it?
3. What are the advantages of giving ideas time to percolate and evolve before rushing to make something of them?
Looking forward to hearing your experiences and thoughts.
1. I gather inspiration by keeping my eyes open, and taking time to look around. When I can, I scribble sketch in a notebook.
2.I put my sketches on a bulletin board in front of me, just so that they are 'around' and remind my forgetful self about them. I have had brilliant ideas that i forget all about!
3. The most important advantage of giving ideas time before rushing to make something is that I hopefully can finish what I've been working on first. Otherwise, I end up with many things started, spread all over the place, (which I kinda like, actually) and never finished (which I don't like). I don't think the actual project develops very much if made to wait, I don't see that development until I start making the idea. Of course, who knows what actually went on during that time that I know nothing about.
Patrice, thank for your thoughts.
1. Keeping my eyes open - I completely agree, and not just our eyes but all of our senses. This for me is the core element of being able to gather inspiration - being open and receptive to it.
2. How do you then choose which ideas to develop from the board? How does this process work for you?
3. Yes, of course all the ways that an idea quietly develops in a dark corner of our minds aren't all traceable or documentable. There's a certain magic that goes on when we let stuff percolate that we can't describe (and don't need to), we just need to trust it and let it happen.
I don't actually seek or gather inspiration- I think it comes when it comes but I have to be aware that something is coming.
I love the feeling of a new project just simmering away and then suddenly it is time to make, draw, photograph, etc. it.
If I try to jump into a project too soon it doesn't seem to come out as nicely as when it has had a chance to develop.
Hi Sara, thanks for sharing your replies.
How are you aware when something is coming? What are the signs?
Same question really, How do you know when it's to make, draw or photograph? How do you know when the thinking's done and the hands need to get to work?
Have you found any benefits of creating smaller and faster projects, that haven't had time to percolate?
"I love the feeling of a new project just simmering away and then suddenly it is time to make, draw, photograph, etc. it. "
1. I don't actively seek inspiration, it comes to me on a whim. I can be reading a book, watching TV, listening to music on my IPod, taking a walk, driving in my car, be having dinner in a nice restaurant, out shopping with a friend etc... Ideas just pop in my head out of nowhere. However, once the idea comes to me all my activities become a part of what stimulates them. For examples; A phrase from a dialog in a movie can trigger a clever sentence, paragraph or even and entire chapter in my novel. A pair of shoes I found online that I really loved can become a discription to a pair of shoes my character is wearing.
2. I don't let my ideas simmer and percolate. As soon as an idea comes to me I use whatever means I have at the moment to get started on it, no matter where I am or what I'm doing. If I'm out for a walk I use my smartphone to jot down notes or record them if my mind is thinking faster than I can write.
3. For me there is no advantage to giving ideas time to percolate and evolve. My best ideas are when they're fresh, so I use them or lose them. I dive right in because I can always go back and change things later.
Hi Lori, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
1. Yes! Very much relate to this, it feels a very organic and continuous process. Sometimes we don't even know it happens, or where our influences and inspirations come from.
This makes me think of music and how some artists quite clearly wear their influences on their sleeves (they talk about them, and it's apparent in their music), whilst others simply become an ever evolving mix of everything they've ever heard and loved, with their own unique twist on it.
2. How do you deal with multiple ideas and projects? I mostly jot down short ideas, but some bigger ones I just have sort of simmering in the background, knowing I'll return and add a little now and then until they're ready to be put on paper. These ones I know I won't forget, so I don't need to immediately capture them. Others, like a line of poetry, I definitely do need to capture there and then, because if I don't they'll be gone forever.
3. What about a longer, larger project? For example a story with characters in. Do the characters mostly come to you in one great rush, or do you have a few initial bits and pieces that you slowly add to and flesh out over time?
" For me there is no advantage to giving ideas time to percolate and evolve. My best ideas are when they're fresh, so I use them or lose them. I dive right in because I can always go back and change things later. ".....sometimes I also do this!........sometimes I percolate....I like the choices and what feels right in the moment!
"However, once the idea comes to me all my activities become a part of what stimulates them.".....I can relate to this too.......I find this happens often........it's like a switch was flipped....
Happy belated New Year to all of you! I can't believe we're more than half way through the month of January already! Been busy preparing my new classes and trying to keep on top of things. But I just wanted to chime in while the topic is hot, hot, hot.
1. My inspiration comes a lot from books and I LOVE spending the day at our Grande Bibliothèque in Montreal (Canada) where I always feel like a kid in in a candy store. When I go there, I bring a sketch book, note book, colored pencils and pens and a lunch and I spend the whole day there. I have a ritual: first I visit the New arrivals. I usually find treasures there. I bring a big pile of book to the reading table and flip through the pages of the big picture books and wait for something to leap at me and invariably, something does. It's like going fishing. I throw the line and wait for the fish to bite. Then I take notes and draw in my sketchbook and write down the ideas sparked by what I just discovered and keep doing that for an hour or two. Then I move to the first floor where all the art books are. And sometimes I'll go to a specific section if I'm working on a particular project and look things up or I just browse around until something catches my eye. Again I gather piles of books that I bring to a reading table and proceed to devour them, take notes, draw, then I take a break. After I moved to the magazine section on the second floor. That's where I see what's current in various worlds and end the visit by the music section on the last floor. I usually take the time to walk around downtown a bit and take the pulse of the city. I come back to my little village full of inspiration to use now or later.
2. If an idea excites me, I try to do something about right away or else, the idea cools down or I forget about it (If I don't write it down). For me, it's good to strike while the iron is hot.
3. The way I work, the ideas usually transform as I start to work with them, it's all part of my process. There is only so much percolating before the idea loses its momentum. The longer I wait, the colder and further the ideas goes away from me.
Hi Claude Aimee, always lovely to see your cat appear in its chair in CCS threads.
1. Your days in the library sound blissful. I love how you go there all set to make a whole day of it. I like the fishing analogy. What bait do you use? Does altering it have a different outcome? : )
Do you go to the library when you feel the need for fresh inspiration, or for ideas for a specific new project, or do you make it a habit to visit there regularly anyway? Do you take any ideas there with you, any kind of direction or outline, or just completely follow what you're taken by in a spontaneous way?
I remember going to the Pompidou Centre in Paris last year, and though the whole place was amazing, I could have happily spent most of the day in the bookshop! Don't think I've ever seen so many wonderful and idea packed volumes in one place! In fact I could've probably moved in for a year and not ever been short of inspiration!
2. How do you capture an idea, how do you keep it hot? I know I need to gather enough detail so that when I return it takes me back to that initial excitement, and, well, the heat of the idea. If I just jot down too vague or too little detail, when I go back it doesn't inspire me, and I might even wonder why I bothered to write it down.
3. How do you deal with having further new ideas when you're already working on a number of projects?
To reply to your questions:
1. When I go to the library, I sometimes have a specific project in mind but as I look at book, often ideas for other projects just appear of nowhere. So I write them down as they come, make little sketches and add whether other ideas it generate. Since I'm always working on different projects at the same time, it suits me just fine. I just have to follow where the books take me. When fishing for inspiration or just «filling the pond» as Julia Cameron calls it, the important thing is to be open and aware and go with the flow. It applies with painting and all other creative projects I work on. Even though I have a general idea of where I'm going, I must be ready to deviate and see where the side road will take me.
2. Sketching and writing the idea in my notebook is how I capture the idea or sometimes I'll make photocopies of pages of a book. If an idea really excites me, I find a way not to lose it.
3. Usually if I'm working on many projects, I have a file or notebook dedicated to it where I'll stuff everything I find or think about in so I don't scatter the material about and for fresh new ideas that are just outside what I'm interested in at the moment but has potential, I put the sketches and ideas in my general sketbook or little notebooks and when I need inspiration I flipped through those and revive ideas I had picked along the way. A few years ago I was working on an artist book for a collective show. It was called The seasons of the pear tree. It took me about 3 months to get it all done from the time I decided what kind of book I would make, the content, illustrations, etc. etc. I made a plan for all the pages, wrote down what I wanted to represent, wrote a poem about the seasons seen through the transformation of the pear tree and since I knew that there was going to be a meet-the-artists- afternoon where we'd be talking about our books, I even made a «making of» sort of album incorporating all the notes I took sketches and tests I made along the way, it was like a treasure map of my process from conception to finish process. Once the idea was clear enough, I gave myself the time necessary for it mature and come together. I like to alternate between long-term projects such as this with a series of spontaneous paintings or mandalas or have «playdates» with my artist friends and we dream up one-day projects to inspire each other and keep the flame going. Collective brainstorming playdates are important to me and I always come back home with a bunch of fresh ideas or new twists on old ones. I have two groups of artist friends I do this with on a regular basis - I feel very lucky to have found them and that we get along so well and are supportive of each other, kind of a real-life version of CCS.
3. I always welcome new ideas even if I never do anything with them because often one idea leads to another and another and poof! something comes out that's exactly what I was looking for - even if sometimes I wasn't consciously looking for it. I love the way inspiration works in mysterious, unpredictable and strange ways sometimes and that's the real excitement and fun of it.
"Even though I have a general idea of where I'm going, I must be ready to deviate and see where the side road will take me." - I really like this approach. I see the initial idea as a starting point for a great adventure, rather than a final destination, a perfect finished vision of how the art will turn out. Sometimes we need this vision to some extent, but trying to be too precise, and not allowing the work to go where it wants to go (and flow where it wants to flow!) I believe is counterproductive and restricting what we can create.
I love the idea of having a notebook for each major project. I imagine the notebook itself to be a work if art in itself, and probably as interesting (and as revealing about the artist) as the finished artworks. Have you ever published/shared these notebooks?
Yes we need to set up in our lives enough space and freedom and show enough trust in the process, to allow these ideas to keep flowing, and trigger off chain reactions that lead to other ideas. The more we relax our control (or need to control) how our ideas evolve, the more they can become what they need to become.