One thing people ask me all the time is how do I come up with my painting ideas.
"How do you do that?" to be more specific.
And if I were to answer them honestly and say, "I just... do it," I would sound extremely silly. It's only because of all of the training and lifetime of "making" that I have under my belt (25+ years!) that I'm finally at the point of using a Nike mindset when I paint. And trust me, there's still a LOT of thinking, questioning, and painter's block that goes on.
A huge part of letting go while painting and following my gut comes with the constant inspiration I find around me. So I'm going to tell you how I find this fuel as an artist in my life, today.
I posted last night on my Instagram (which you can find HERE!) about said inspiration.
I think it's crucial not only as a growing artist but as a normal gal to find the good + the gold in the seemingly ordinary things we have around us. It's a way of re-training your brain. However, I'm no life coach or teacher so take everything I'm saying as loose advice and with a grain of salt. Or seven grains of salt.
Drum roll, please...
Tip #1 - Change Your Perspective
I'm sure no one has EVER told you this before, right? But gosh, it is so true.
Here is a fun fact: Artists who graduate with my degree have been known to go on to become detectives and forensic scientists. Why? Because we see the world differently!
When you see a pile of leaves, do you look at it as a mass of dirty, old pieces from the tree OR do you see all of the vibrant, lush fall colors? Do you only think about having to rake them up later or how fun it's going to be to jump in them? I would ask myself all of these questions from one simple observation and I would answer ALL of them.
And then wonder how many bugs and gross things are hidden under the pile. But that's besides the point.
In the body of my Instagram post aforementioned, I talked about how I look at photos for colors first and then the actual imagery. This is how my mind works because visuals are the lifeblood of my occupation. It's the same for a make-up artist - they're going to see the model's gloss and blush before they see what's happening in the actual frame.
I challenge you to find one thing to focus on when you're doing your everyday routine that could inspire you - whether it's color, textures, clicking of coffee cups, laughter, a thankful heart for all the food in your fridge, how your dog reacts when you come home, the swinging of a skirt hemline, or the lives of the people on the subway. Find something to make you THINK further, BE thankful, FEEL deeper. It can even be the pile of leaves in your backyard, hopefully without any bugs.
Tip #2 - Listen to GOOD Music
If you haven't discovered the world of Spotify yet, you need to scoot on over right now and sign yourself up. They have playlists tailored to your mood, what's popular on the radio right now, your favorite artist, and even special playlists bands put together of songs that they love. I know, it's incredible. There is no right or wrong when it comes to music and creating. Some days I listen to only country music, for eight hours straight. Other days, I listen to a new podcast. And my default is always Lord Huron, Hozier, Old Dominion, or any playlist by Tatum Lewis. But usually, it's a mix of all of the above because it's familiar sounds and becomes like static in the background. I think it's important to be creative with sound waves that make us feel like our truest self, whatever that version might be that day. (Trust me, I never thought folks from Nashville would be in the background while I painted my fine art paintings. #lifechanges)
The lyrics can inspire you to make something you didn't know was inside of you. Or, they can make you completely tune out and subconsciously, you make something you didn't know was inside of you. Bottom line, music helps us tune into parts of ourselves we didn't even know existed. It's scary and amazing and it's so vital to humanity to FEEL ALL THE FEELS and face yourself!
Tip #3 - Ask Questions
Throughout my day, I tend to see the details in a space first and assess each room as I enter it. I also do this exact same thing with a painting once my first few layers are laid down:
Do I like that pink stroke? Does it have a purpose? Will people even notice it? Does that make it unimportant? Will it completely ruin the painting if I take it out? ...meh, let's try it. Repeat.
I ask myself a LOT of questions (and my husband, sorry B) because with changing your perspective comes curiosity. It is vital to be as childlike as possible and to become a sponge again. This, in turn, will make you feel inspired by things you didn't pay much mind to previously. Voila! It's just like one of Brandon's favorite quotes by one of his most favorite people, Steve Jobs... "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Being complacent is very uninspiring. And sadly, it can lead to depression states. So do not settle! Ask ALL of the questions! Knowledge is power. How many little quips can I throw at you before they stick?
1.) Be positive and challenge yourself to think outside of your cozy box.
2.) Listen to [your version of] good music. It will transform you.
3.) Ask all the questions. Be a sponge to the answers.
I will post in the future on different versions of what inspiration looks like to me. But today, these three points really stick out to me while I'm doing my thing in the studio. I hope that some of it sticks with you, too.
- Allison James
ps: A lot of crazy things have been happening in the world recently. Be kind to those around you. Xo