Handmade Artists' Blog

A Story about Artistic Inspiration

How does inspiration come to you?

Poet Ruth Stone relayed this to Writer Elizabeth Gilbert

polymer clay dancerAs [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.

The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet”.

And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.[5]


I’ve always loved this and wanted to share it.

Have you ever thought about how inspiration comes to you? I never did until I read this story for the first time. For me, inspiration comes to me differently at different times. It shows up in my head as ideas. I always have topics floating around in my head and based on those topics I will receive ideas for artwork. Then I try the idea on for size. In other words, I think about how I would express the thought in clay or paint or whichever medium. Sometimes the idea doesn’t stick and I move on to a new idea and other times I take the idea quite a ways mentally through an artistic process before either abandoning it or deciding to give it a try for real. And then there are the times when immediately as the thought arrives in my head I’m lead through a series of easy steps to a crystal clear image of a finished piece. These crystal clear ideas feel the most like true artistic inspiration to me because it’s as though the ideas come through me not from me.

Want to share? We’d love to hear it. Please post your stories of artistic inspiration in the comments section below

Written by StartsArts




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