They say inspiration strikes when you least expect it, and they’re right.
I’ve done very little painting recently and (as my mind is wont to do) I’ve spent a great deal of energy worrying about all the reasons I can think of for my artistic malaise, and how to fix it.
Turns out all I needed was a change of scene and time to think about something other than my lack of inspiration and progress.
Where did inspiration strike me this time? On a train, watching the countryside speed by after a day out in London. Where it most certainly did not happen was at home on the many numerous occasions I’ve spent staring at a canvas that’s been crying out for some attention these past few days.
What I realised today (and I forget this over and over again) is that the more I think about a problem I think I have, the bigger it becomes. The harder I work to figure something out — like what to do with an unfinished painting — the less likely I am to come up with a simple, elegant solution. The more I worry about my ‘lack’ of inspiration, the less inspired I feel…
This is true of most, if not all, aspects of my life. The more I scramble around looking for answers, and the narrower the focus of my mind’s attention, the less I see and am open to.
Taking a day off from ruminating over my apparent artist’s block was the best and simplest thing I could have done to get over it! I had space. My mind was refreshed and thinking about other things. I was present and relaxed and enjoying the day.
And then ‘ping!’
In that open space, inspiration happened quite easily and without any effort on my part. Suddenly I was having visions of a painting I’d like to paint. I could see the colours and had a sense of the composition. Best of all, I felt inspired and moved to start painting again.
You know that surge of energy you get when you feel like that? That’s what happens when you don’t let your mind clutter your headspace with noise. It’s what’s available to us when we take a break, get a change of scene, stretch our legs and just breathe.
We can’t go looking for inspiration in our mind because it isn’t something that can be found there. We have to get out into the world, be present to life, and let inspiration find us when we least expect it.