Monday, July 31, 2017

Everyday Inspiration

When I unplugged back in March I needed more than a break from the internet and the blog. I had a huge project to tackle, creative batteries in need of serious recharging, and a desire to get back to who I am (versus who everyone expects me to be for them.) This little critter here is an example of things I was missing. Over the last couple years I'd gotten so busy that I wouldn't have said okay when my kid said, "Mom, come outside and see this cool bug."

I stopped burying myself in have-tos and must-dos. I started going outside again, and taking pictures of cool bugs. I wandered a little every day, not to search for anything specific but to be open to inspiration. That cool bug (only the second mantis I've seen since we moved here) inspired a character in the novel I just finished; one who turned out so well that my client complimented me for it.

Would I have created the character without seeing the cool bug? Maybe -- but it probably would have taken longer, and the character might not have been as original. Taking five minutes to admire and photograph this little critter was just for fun, but it helped me with the work, too.

Since I am the least random person I know, I spent a couple of months doing very random things. I ordered a mystery box of modern fabric (which I don't use) and got a bunch of very graphic fat quarters in black and white with touches of gold. You should have seen my face; I've never made a black and white quilt. The point of the exercise, however, was to get out of my fussy old lady crazy quilting color junkie corner and try something new, so I made the fabric into this quilt.

The process made me appreciate modern fabrics; their deceptively simple patterns become classy and vibrant when you start putting them together. The challenge of making such graphic materials work together taught me some new tricks. Since I'm now set on making a true black and white quilt, I think it expanded my horizons a bit, too.

We tend to get complacent with our creativity. I've been doing the same things over and over because I'm pretty good at them, I don't have to think about the work involved much, and the results are predictable and positive. Whether it's quilting or writing or anything, there's nothing wrong with sticking to what you know. That said, unless we try new things once in a while, we can't grow.

What have you done lately to seek new sources of inspiration? Let us know in comments.


  1. Yesterday I took advantage of joining Skillshare free for a couple of months. I haven't used Illustrator for about 3 years, since I was taking graphic art classes and started doing some of the tutorials there. The knowledge is still there, buried, but there and I am enjoying going back and doing fun things. I have also designed two quilts of my own and gathering fabrics for them. Plus trying to remember I am retired now and I CAN stop and play a bit with my 4 year old grand daughter and not 'hurry' so much.

  2. Creativity...I did all the design and then the gathering of the things I want in the bathroom remodel. Does that count? Yesterday, we picked up the cabinets and countertop and it's sitting, all put together, in my dining room. I'm so freaking excited, I can't tell you! All we're waiting for now is the clawfoot tub to come. Other than that, all of the ongoing weeding I've had to do has kind of sucked the creativity out of me. But it will come back :)

  3. OH! I meant to say, I used to buy praying mantis for my garden, along with the good ladybugs and if you think that one in your picture is amazing (which it is!) you should see the tiny babies when they hatch. They're so stinking cute!

  4. That is a cool quilt!

    I've been trying to walk more, when it isn't too hot. There aren't as many walkable days during the Texas summer as I'd like.

  5. Well, music's always been a great inspiration for me, so I'm constantly on the lookout for new artists and genres. Listening to the music from other quarters of the world helped shape a lot of new chararacter concepts that I've never written before.

    I'm also learning to find ways of expressing things through other media.

  6. Whenever I feel like I'm stagnating creatively, I go and talk to a five year old. There's so much imagination in those little heads and then poof, they grow up and it's gone (for most of us).

  7. Penny Pflager9:12 AM

    I popped in to see if you were back and what a pleasant surprise. I saw the picture you posted of your quilt and I absolutely love it. I would not have picked those colors either, however, you put together something that truly talks to me. I'm glad it turned out so well for you. That inspires me to try stepping out and give other color palettes a chance.


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