Anyone who’s taken a stroll in the art world has probably heard of the term “inspiration.” I know living in the world world, it’s something I hear about all the time as one of the most vital things about being an artist. It’s that magical, unearthly feeling of experiencing something; an event, a sensation, another piece of art, and being filled with a desire to create because of it.
It’s probably one of my favorite things about art. It’s much more than just looking at something and thinking it’s pretty. It’s an enabler. A strong desire to make something from such experience. I love that feeling. More often than not, it’s a rush of beauty and joy that flows through my head and puts in my hands an itch to create.
What’s also amazing is the different things that inspire different artists: Van Gogh was inspired by nature, Warhol was inspired by graphic design, even way back in time, Romans were inspired by the Greeks and the Renaissance artists by them with the mixture of technology and engineering that was coming back! … For me, inspiration happens when I’m in the presence of great beauty, and also mental stimulation (chemistry) or spiritual contemplation (churches). This is why my sketch books are filled with hydrocarbons and sketches of saints and angels.
Inspiration is falling in love.
But sometimes love fades.
So does inspiration.
Sometimes, being inspired isn’t enough to create something though. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve been ‘inspired’ to do, then abandoned because I’ve lost interest.
Sometimes you may have started something and decided it wasn’t a good enough idea, but some art needs to be brought to completion. There is a story or vision that needs to be told.
I’ve written a short list of five things to do when you want to create, but the inspiration fades away. This is different from art block as it has more to do with what happens when you lose inspiration rather than if it was never there.
1. Stop waiting for inspiration
You can’t force inspiration. You can put yourself in an environment where you’re more susceptible to it, but inspiration comes on its own accord. If you go out trying to force that same feeling of inspiration that you felt when you first started your project, you’ll only frustrate yourself. If you wait around for inspiration, that’s even worse. It may never come again. At least, not in the same way it did before. You may find yourself not finishing projects or taking forever to do so.
2. Just sit down and do it
I found that a huge part of art involved how much I just needed to sit down and do it. I found that I’ve always wanted to start projects, but I’ve never wanted to finish them. Time management is a huge part of this part of motivation. More often than not, I just had to drag myself into the studio and and tell myself I’m only going to work on something for 15 minutes. Sometimes after starting to work on a project, I’ll get really into it and spend anywhere to 45 minutes to two hours!
3. Set a Time Limit
Anyone who’s been following me these last few months may have noticed that the art I’ve finished was either requested by someone else or gift for someone. Having a time limit really helped me commit myself to these projects. I’ve met and heard of artists who have taken sometimes years to work on a project, but my philosophy is that’s really bad for business. If someone’s paying you to do art, you should get it done in a timely manner.
With my Terrace at Night Van Gogh copy that I made for my aunt, I told her in February it would take five months. I got it done in three. It was also easier to finish Our Lady of the Wood and the Imperial Guard painting when I told myself I would finish those in time for Mother and Father’s Day. If I didn’t sit down and come up with a due date, I probably never would have started on them, let alone complete them.
5. Go Back to What Inspired You
Sometimes, it might help to go back to the source of your inspiration. Go back to that hike you went on, the museum you were at, or that Pinterest board where you first felt inspired. Don’t go back to it too much in a short period of time, though, it might lose its luster.