Recently I’ve been lacking in inspiration. I think it’s a normal occurrence in the life of an artist, but even so, it doesn’t feel great. It takes effort and determination to dig yourself out of the little hole you’ve started shrinking into; to rise above the negative chatter getting louder in your own mind. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. One artist I follow on instagram suggested a book in one of her posts. I looked up the book, because it sounded like something I needed, went on to purchase it, and the first piece of advice which resonated with me was this: take a break from social media. Go figure - I had to go on social media to get off social media! But it was a solid piece of advice. For me, personally, I knew I needed to take a break from looking at the work of other artists I admired, because instead of being inspired I was now beginning to feel lacking and deflated. I see myself as an artist, and actually I always have. It probably sounds a bit corny but I truly always knew I wanted to be an artist. The problem is; I think I thought it would just…happen. Maybe I thought it would come to me? It’s taken a long while to realise it’s the other way around. You definitely have to turn those lemons into lemonade yourself, and actually it’s a good thing that hard work and dedication is a requirement. But that still doesn’t take away that fact that it takes hard work, both physically and mentally and also emotionally. I loved coming across the quote by Henri Matisse, “Creativity takes courage”. Lacking inspiration is one thing, but starting to feel discouraged is another. Courage is most certainly required, as is faith and much belief.
I took the advice and took a break from sinking into that little phone of mine and I looked up. I mean properly. I looked up, looked around and began to pay attention again to my surroundings. My main job is being mother to our two year old son, Romeo. I am chief clothes washer, food maker, mouth wiper, bottom cleaner, snack dispenser and keeper of the chocolate button stash. We also have a dog called Blue who keeps guard of the Kingdom, making sure I don’t miss the doorbell and that Romeo and I get regular exercise twice a day. So the good news is; I don’t have any time to wallow in any self pity I might be attempting to bestow upon myself. But I can still allow myself to get swept along with the regular days of chaos and slump into feeling like this mess is all I am. Which, actually, in a way is true. It's not ALL I am but it is where I am right now. It’s knowing how to turn this so called ‘mess’ into ART; meaning how can I be inspired by the everyday and squeeze some more juice out of the lemon.
So when I say I began to pay attention again to my surroundings, I mean I began to remind myself that my surroundings ARE my inspiration. When we went out for our next walk, I embraced it as an opportunity to take a breather and enjoy seeking out the beauty again; the shapes, colours and all the feelings you experience being outside and away from the to-do-lists of the home. Being a mother is part of who I am, and I am very blessed with this privilege. It is teaching me and shaping me continually. I’ve never been so challenged by anything ever before, but watching Romeo grow and learn is completely inspiring. It can be hard, especially on days when he’s thrown his dinner on the floor, drawn on the walls, had a meltdown after he wasn’t allowed to run into oncoming traffic, and accidentally kicked me in the throat while trying to change his nappy. Some days you’ve got to dig deep! But it’s character building, right?
The other day Romeo and I took a walk into town and he insisted he was going to walk back and not be pushed in his buggy. It was the slowest, longest walk of my life. I could have crawled home faster. He stopped to look at every tree to hug them and marvel at their height, inspect what felt like every leaf on every bush and find out what happened to the leaves if he tore them apart. He took tiny steps, big steps, shuffle steps, back steps, side steps and all with a running commentary in a mix of English and toddler mumble. And on a hot stinking day too. BUT I marvelled at his sheer excitement in the journey and in the discovery. And his pit stop at every tree made me notice the fabulous shadows created by the lush green leaves fluttering above us. I have always loved looking straight up and enjoying these diamond shaped emerald jewels twinkling above me; the sunlight creating a range of tones and shades. I snapped a picture of both the leaves and the shadows, and after that I could not stop! Shadows created from holes in fences, from tall trees and bushes, shadows found in laneways and alleyways, gardens and roads. Art is everywhere. I was inspired, and thanks to Romeo I had plenty of time to keep snapping away.
When we got home, my little darling started drawing on the wall, and before long went crazy on anything he could reach! I grabbed all the paper and pencils I have and spread them out for him. Since then he’s really got into the swing of things and creates energetic scribbles now everyday with great drama and flair. Yesterday he absolutely had to draw standing on the table and on the paper. Wow. No fear, no worry, no over-thinking it, just a love of mark-making, mess and all in the name of adventurous discovery. Hmmm…. There is a verse in the bible, ‘whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:4).
I think this could be good advice.
Reading: Art, Inc.: The Essential guide for building your career as an artist by Lisa Congdon
Listening to: Crash the Chatterbox audio book by Steven Furtick
Re-discovering: Art by Henri Matisse
Doing more of: drawing, sketching, colouring in
Doing less of: restricting my social media intake