Can inspiration be cultivated?
I know, many people think that inspiration is something that comes at us like a bolt of lightning… if we are lucky. In my experience, the more we can slow ourselves down and actually appreciate the wonder of the world around us, the more we create inner space to allow inspiration to grow from the inside out.
Take the classic example of stopping to smell a rose. If we are so busy in our day or in our mind that when we walk outside we won’t be able to enjoy one of life’s simplest pleasures, then we will be too busy to allow that simple pleasure to move something in us. This is the basic ingredient for inspiration.
I love the Latin origin of this word which comes from Inspirar – or to breathe life into. In Antiquity, people attributed inspiration to the intervention of supernatural beings, deities, or muses. These divine entities were believed to be the wellspring of creativity and bestowed their gifts upon chosen individuals. #Artists, writers, and thinkers sought the favor of these otherworldly forces, yearning for the touch of inspiration that would ignite their creative spark.
The idea that inspiration was a divine influence meant that the inspired person was seen as a vessel, a conduit through which the #sacred flowed. They were seen as channels through which the divine energy could manifest in the physical realm. This notion gave a sense of reverence and awe to the process of creation, elevating it beyond the realm of mere human endeavor.
What I believe usually happens to make it seem as though inspiration were a magical, happenstance occurrence, is that people are either too busy to care about being inspired, or they put so much pressure on themselves to be inspired that it takes away from the real intimacy required for inspiration to show itself.
Instead, inspiration is asking us to remember that everything is alive and interconnected. The rose is here for you! To bring you pleasure, to make the world more beautiful, to intoxicate you with its delicious smell. And by you in turn appreciating it, the rose glows a little brighter. Stands a little stronger. Have you ever noticed that after cleaning your house it somehow starts to feel more alive, inhabited, and vibrant? The more appreciative attention we give something, the more we allow our hands and eyes to caress it, the more life we give to it. This is true for anything or any person in our life. Our surroundings are asking to be noticed.
So what’s one thing you can do TODAY to see how we can actively allow inspiration?
1) Scan - Look through art books, Pinterest, or Google. You can search for artists you like, famous paintings, photography, or anything else that comes into your mind.
2) Choose one - Look through different pieces of artwork until one intuitively catches your eye
3) Study it. - What is calling your attention? What shapes do you see? Colors? Lines? Is there any part of it that you don’t find aesthetically pleasing? Is the artwork telling a story? What might it be? What else might it be? What emotion does it bring up in you as you witness it?
4) Grab some material - It can be ANYTHING. Your child’s blocks, a pencil and piece of paper, pillows, raisins, paint, clay (don’t allow not having the ‘right’ material to be an excuse to your exploration- easy trap).
5) Copy this piece of art using your own style - It’s ok to copy! I know they told us not to in school, but this is actually one of the best ways to learn and discover our own style. Find an element in the artwork you have chosen and let that guide this new piece of work. It can be the swirls, the brushstrokes, the color palette, the tone, the setting, the costumes, the beat. Allow yourself to make it your own.
6) Reflect - Once you feel complete, critique your own art. What worked here? What would you like to try next time? What questions do you have? What affected you? How do you feel?
#Inspiration can be found in the simplest of moments and experiences. It's about cultivating a receptive mindset, being present, and allowing yourself to be open to the world around you. If you are open and ready to receive inspiration – you are sure to find it!