Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
I am always fascinated by the topic of paying attention and inspiration as an artist.The more I pay attention with a curiosity, and a sense that, yes, I WILL see or experience something that inspires me, the more I do gather inspiration.
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination.” – Mary Oliver
This quote from Mary Oliver has always spoken to me. I think the world does offer itself to us, beckoning us to pay attention and notice what’s there.
If you’ve hung around in this community for a little while, you know that I pull a LOT of inspiration from nature, but I also love to feed my inner artist seeds of inspiration from other artists. Rowan Mersh is an incredible artist I have been following for the last few months, and I want to show you how his work with shells has kicked off a series of work for me in both pen and paper cutting, and has serendipitously tied back to nature.
I saw this piece and my eyes practically bugged out of my head. It reminds me of rocks and feathers, and it’s so incredibly tactile. I was immediately inspired to interpret this idea in my own way, picked up my pen and journal, and this is what emerged.
I love the simplicity of the marks and the way they move across the page. See how the groupings of the skinny ovals are influenced by Rowan’s work?
Next, I decided to see what I might do with this idea in paper cutting. Here’s what emerged:
Of course this piece also has a relationship to a bunch of other paper cutting pieces I did too. I love how inspiration spirals out, in this direction and that, and back around.
When I was on a plane a few weeks ago, I came back to this pattern in my journal because it’s simple, soothing, and I still had more to discover and understand about it. Doing what feels good in art is part of my mindful art practice.
On the way home, I decided to fatten up those ovals and see what might happen, and then add some color. That’s how I started the opening page of my Moleskine watercolor journal. (Since you often ask.)
And then when I was on vacation at the lake, and as soon as I got to the water, what did I see?
Holy smokes! There it is – my pattern! But in nature! Isn’t that a hoot? So as the kids were playing, I started taking down some of the shapes and patterns here; not in a hard way, but just drawing to get the flavor of it.
Then later, as I had more time here and there, I worked to develop it fully, letting the waves of rock turn this way and that in my pattern.
This will certainly go further still, as I want to explore what happens with more space between the shapes again.
Isn’t this fun? I share this because it’s fun to see how one idea can develop, snowball, and feed so much of your work. So for me, paying attention, and giving my time to the things that spark my interest and curiosity is part of my mindful art practice. I’m noticing what captures my attention. I’m giving it my time. I’m playing with ideas, and paying attention to what feels good as I create.
It’s also a great example of the kind of technique I’ll teach in my upcoming summer retreat, The Inspiring Sketchbook. I’d love to create with you for this special online retreat, and I have just a few spots left. Is one yours? Learn more here:
What’s happening lately in your sketchbook? If you had no limitations – what would you fill it with? Drawings? Stories? Musings about your next project? Tell me about it in the comments!