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For many years, I had several limiting beliefs that prevented me from making art.
Many of us have beliefs that prevent us from doing the things we want to do. How many of those beliefs are a story we’ve told ourselves or ideas we’ve allowed someone else to put in our minds?
Do you have any limiting beliefs that have stopped you from creating?
The most damaging limiting belief I held was that I had to wait for inspiration.
I thought inspiration was a prerequisite to art making but I didn’t know where it came from or how to summon it.
Inspiration seemed magical and elusive.
I thought all great artists throughout history had moments when brilliant ideas struck like lightning, then they went to work. (If only that were true!)
It’s ridiculous to think how long I believed this to be true. Where did this idea even come from?
The reality is, inspiration can come from almost anywhere at anytime. It can come before the work, during the work or after the work. Your ideas can be clear or cloudy. The path is subject to change at any time.
The important thing is that we stay active in the creative process so that when inspiration arrives, we’re able to take full advantage of it.
For me, it is doing the work that generates the inspiration. Inspiration is only a part of the creative process but understanding how I find it helped me return to making art.
During my art drought (which lasted about ten years), I’d occasionally get in the mood to make art. One week, I’d embroider or draw, or I’d buy a bunch of oil paints and try to put something on canvas. I’d play with spray paint or weave strips of newspapers together.
None of it stuck.
Not one of these ideas developed beyond the initial investigation because I didn’t understand how to take it further. It was only through starting and sticking with an idea that I learned the way to inspiration is through doing.
I started to return to art when I was tired of waiting for something to happen. I was always waiting for the idea or for the perfect moment when what I needed to do was take action and stay with it.
Initially, it wasn’t much of an idea, I thought I’d document things in my neighborhood through photography. I kept doing it, with no goal in mind.
After a while, I had an impulse to draw from the photographs, that impulse lead to a series that I developed over several years.
Looking back, I realize the impulse I had WAS inspiration.
Inspiration isn’t a fully formed vision like I’d imagined it to be. For me, it feels like something tugging on you, subtly trying to get your attention.
It’s a whisper, not a shout, and you’ll only hear it if you’re listening.
As Picasso recognized, inspiration rewards consistent action. That isn’t to say you have to spend all of your time creating art to find it. I believe if you saturate your life with art; creating, reading, looking, listening, you will find inspiration.
What is critical is that you don’t wait for it to find you.
See my next post to read about the project that helped me return to art and provided years of inspiration.