What is in your toolbox? Tools of your trade, I would guess. Do you consider inspiration a tool? Inspiration is the starting point for an artwork; it’s the match that lights your fire. I would like to suggest another use for Inspiration (with a capital ‘I’): as a learning tool. Inspiration is something I can add to my toolbox to draw upon, to experiment with and, hopefully, stretch my capabilities.
Finding Inspiration on Instagram
There are lots of ways to find that kind of Inspiration, of course: books, museums, art centers, art associations, and workshops to name the most common. Social media is another way, and a worthwhile tool. In particular, Instagram is a wonderful platform for artists. I like it for two reasons. Firstly, my work is going out to a community of people who understand it. The artists know what it is like working in the studio – the struggles, the doubts, the “Aha!” moments, and the successes. And of course, we all like some validation of our work in the midst of our own uncertainty.
The second reason I like Instagram is the terrific variety and style of art. And that is where the Inspiration I’m talking about comes into play. With Instagram you can save any of the images of interest along with all the information and comments the artist, or viewer, has added. The ones I save, probably a couple hundred or so at this point, each have something of interest to me and my practice.
It may be a particular use of line or texture, a composition that’s intriguing, the color palette, or how blocks of color are used. Sometimes there is a combination of materials or a perspective that I hadn’t thought about before. Maybe it is a technical approach that is of interest. I go through these images to reflect on what speaks to concerns I may have. I ask the question: “How I might challenge myself to try something new, how might some aspect of that add a spark in my own work?” Whether I use it or not, it informs me and broadens my understanding of the creative process.
The artists themselves are inspiring, as well. Learning about their challenges, whether personal or in the studio, and how they are working with or overcoming them is a lesson in humility. It is also an appreciation of the the breadth and depth of the human spirit. That is what art is all about, isn’t it?
Trying Out New Things
Even if social media isn’t your bag, give Instagram a try. I follow only artists and their work, not allowing anything else in my feed (Facebook pretty well covers that). It’s a great way to connect with a larger community of artists and art lovers from all over the world, and to find Inspiration to carry in your toolbox. If you still prefer to keep it to the real world, you can find some more Inspiration with Pinellas Community Foundation on February 22 at the Festivale 50 event! You can find out more and get your tickets here.
Side Photo Credit: “Labor Day at Lido Beach #7” by Tim Jaeger