some thoughts on inspiration and a few books

I've been thinking about inspiration. Wondering where it comes from. I know I stumble on inspiration in lots of places. In books. On blogs. Magazines, museums. Walking through the garden. Driving. Window shopping. Just about anything can be a source of inspiration for me. Sometimes I go out looking for it and sometimes it flutters around my head and collides with me.

Thinking about all of this, I've realized that there are a few different kinds of inspiration. Sometimes I'm inspired with a specific idea. I see a flower and something about its shape and color makes me want to paint it. Or I see a piece of fabric and just know what I want to make out of it. The other night Matthias and I were watching The Matrix and I had the most random bolt of inspiration. A design in the background of a tiny, transitional scene inspired me to make a quilt. I was crocheting while we watched the movie and not entirely focused on the screen, but a graffitied mosaic in the background (that kind of looks like a Tetris game) caught my eye.

Random, fleeting, almost missed. But maybe that's just the way with inspiration? The important thing, I've found, is to try to capture the idea before it floats out of my consciousness. Take a blurry photo of the screen, scribble an idea in my notebook, make a quick sketch because once it's gone, it's gone.

Sometimes inspiration is less an idea and more a feeling, an openness, a sense of Joy. And that, perhaps, is the best kind. It's buoyant, like being in love. Everything is beautiful and around every corner there's an idea waiting. I don't need to be in that near-intoxicated inspiration mode in order to have an idea, but it's more fun that way. There's a nebulous sense of possibility. It might be a bit blurry, but that blurriness is where the discovery comes in.

A piece of fabric catches my eye and I add it to my collection knowing that eventually I'll know just what to do with it. A bit of conversation overheard gives me the idea for a character for a story. An image in a magazine starts me thinking about rearranging furniture. Or maybe I look through a book and get not an idea, but a feeling. An excitement and a Joy.

Where do you find your inspiration? How do you fall into an inspiration intoxication? I'd love to know.

As for books, here are a few that have been inspiring me lately:

Design*Sponge at Home is what inspired me to paint my studio a peachy apricot color. The photos of Sarah Ryhanen's home made me think that maybe I could try something other than blue or green. Improv Sewing is so encouraging for someone who never really learned the real way to sew. The first sentence of the introduction pretty much sums it up: "We wanted to share our belief that creating should be about pursuing joy, not pursuing perfection." See why it would appeal to me? Finally, Mati Rose's lovely book is basically Joy formed into a book shape. Yes, there are painting techniques and projects, but it's also about adventuring and being inspired and finding your creative voice.

What about you? What's bringing you inspiration and Joy today?


  1. Today I was inspired by the morning! A blue sky, crisp cool air and the waning moon still visible in the sky. People like you inspire me Anne - people with get up and go, the do-ers the motivators. I find joy and inspiration in your blog posts.

  2. Hi Anne! I'm looking for fresh inspiration too - fall changes for my home, new paths for my art impulses and recipes that will transform the best of fall bounty in new ways. I also just checked Design Sponge at Home out of our library today! I also checked out a book called "The New Artisans" by Olivier Dupon about contemporary artists who are blending arts and craft, creating handmade designs out of varied materials ranging from concrete to silver to wallpaper and knitwear. Lots of beautiful photos and websites to explore! I'm also inspired by the sharp autumn light, yellow finches eating sunflowers in a nearby garden, ripe tomatoes and your lovely photos and prompts :)

  3. I get inspiration from
    -- Toxic Frosting

  4. hi there:)
    I feel the same way-- my inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere: a dream, and photo, a conversation, an interaction, a scent, a feeling...
    I LOVE that snippet of the Matrix, and how is spurred you into action. I love thinking that the makers of that movie have no idea, and that perhaps you are one of thousands who were inspired in one way or another from the visual candy they created.


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