How to Find Inspiration In Everyday Places

If you are anything like me, you will have times when creativity comes and goes. You may have periods of frenetic inspiration, activity and production, then find yourself in a creative drought, unable to find direction or inspiration for your next project. At times like these, I look to my immediate surroundings with conscious awareness.

In order to kick start my creative juices into flowing again I arm myself with a camera, sketch pad, some sandwiches and a positive attitude. Out I go for the morning (or afternoon) and try to see my surroundings with a new set of eyes. Although I live in a city, my area is fairly leafy so I get squirrels running up and down the garden. My immediate neighbor's plot is usually a riot of color with his multitudinous pots, hangers and various containers all spilling with plants and flowers.
As I look around me I can see lots of textures. The deep umber Larchlap timber fencing all around the garden, the multi-colored pebble dashing down the side of the house, the corrugated roof of the workshop opposite for example. All these shapes, patterns, textures and colors can be incorporated into artwork or springboards for other ideas.
Around the corner is an old graveyard, where the headstones pose majestically, facing this way and that. Lichen and moss in beautiful rich ochres, siennas, reds and greens adorn these dignified memorials. As a knitwear designer as well as an artist, I find the color and texture of these plants infinitely fascinating and great inspiration for new designs and stitch patterns.

My city still has lots of very ornate buildings dating back to the eighteenth century, and earlier, as well as more recent property which has been built throughout the various decades since. So walking down the street, I see tall and imposing Victorian mansions, with their ornate features along roofs, over windows and doors, elegant proportions and intricate detailing, next to neat, minimal, thirties semis with their cool light frontages and elegant curving window frames - architectural styles which are at two ends of a spectrum.
More recent structures, such as post war council housing, apartment blocks and 60's high rise buildings, which some would argue, are not as aesthetically interesting or pleasing, in my opinion, are still valid as possible influence for your creative endeavors.

Venturing further into the city, with the hustle bustle of shoppers, workers, students, busses, cars, shops and offices, I am faced with a melange of noise, movement, color and differing styles, in both architecture, and peoples manor of dress and hairstyle. Large advertising boards and even massive plasma screens shout out their seductive messages into my subconscious.
Stimulation is all around me. The fruit and vegetable seller, his pitch bursting with row upon row of rich red and green apples, oranges, lemons and limes, the red cabbage, which is actually a beautiful shade of purple, yellow sweetcorn, rich aubergines, dark green kale.
Stalls where Indian ladies sell glittering, shimmering sari fabrics and the most beautiful haberdashery and embroidery braids. Each of these fabrics are laced with glittering sequins or beads, and they glint when the light catches them. The silky fabrics come in bold, luminous, dazzling colors - much more vibrant than we westerners would generally produce.
In the center of the city, I come to the magnificent and imposing council building, with it's huge pillars and intricately carved facade. The city square which it overlooks, almost guarding it, is thronging with people on foot, on roller skates, on scooters, babies are being pushed around in prams and buggies. They share the square with hundreds of pigeons, who glide and dive and whose feathery markings can become inspiration for many projects. You often see the odd person on the sidelines, with sketchbook in hand, around here.

If you don't live in the city, there is still inspiration around you in every tree and hedgerow, birds and animals, architecture, people, sea, sky, the texture, pattern, color on everyday objects. When you are going through a flat period, don't expect artistic inspiration to come to you in a flash of lightening... it won't. That's not to say inspiration will never strike out of the blue again. Of course it will. There will come a time when you are tripping up over yourself with inspiration and ideas.
However, during those times when you are struggling for direction, you need to work at it, put the effort in, get out there, sketch, take photos. Experience your surroundings. You will be surprised at how invigorating and inspirational a bit of purposeful leg work can be.


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