The thing about inspiration is it's fluid.
I find inspiration often reflects the stage I'm at in my life, or my emotional state. That is why finding inspiration can be difficult. You need to be in tune with your deeper emotions and find a connection to the world that surrounds you. You need to pay attention to yourself and what around you resonates with you on a deeper level. Here is why I have found this to be true.
I, such as many, had a difficult childhood. While my family reflected that of an average middle-class family, the real pain was hidden behind closed doors. I was raised in a home that had a lot of love, but it was plagued with alcoholism, mental illness, and a very ill sibling.
A member of my family suffered from a mental illness and struggled with alcoholism most of their life. While there are memories of a time when they were happy, healthy, and talented, I found my childhood became riddled in traumatic memories that were difficult to erase. While this caused much pain in my home, nothing compared to the day we discovered my little brother, Michael, had Leukemia. This is how I discovered the truth behind the term: inspiration.
Michael fought for years. His final relapse happened in May of 2008. Then the day we all dreaded came. We had to check Michael into the hospital one last time. I recall holding his hand for hours on end. Staring at his face through tears. Our entire family filled that room, but it was so silent you could hear a pin drop. After hours of holding his hand, it felt as though his hand had melted into my own.
Then out of nowhere, a quick squeeze, his eyes opened, a much paler blue than I had come to know, and he took his last breath. My heart broke.
I found myself sketching every hour I could find. My inspiration in this moment didn't come from a place of beauty or pain, it came from fear.
I felt immense fear for years that I would come to forget my brothers face.
So I drew. I sketched his eyes and filled the irises with sky blues and deep navy hues. I drew his button nose, and detailed with the freckles that danced across his face. I drew the dimple in his chin that he and I share in common, and his shaggy brown hair that used to flow.
This went on for years until one day I discovered I could draw all these features that are uniquely his, by memory.
I didn't need a photo to reference his cheek bones, or colors to portray his blue eyes correctly. I found my hands memorized every inch of my brother's face. I found I no longer feared forgetting the curve of his nose or the DC hat he wore every day. Then I discovered something more.
I had been stuck for years. Obsessively sketching him, over and over. I didn't care for my schooling nor making new friends. I didn't care to watch new shows or listen to new music. My world was inspired by one thing: fear of forgetting him. Now that I have memorized his every feature, I found myself suddenly awake again.
He remained my inspiration, but not stemmed from fear. I wanted to see the world he had left too soon.
I decided to leave the country on my own. I left for New Zealand for years and on that very first day that I set foot on the streets in Auckland, I found myself smiling at the view of this new city. I came upon a group of people from the hostel playing football and joined in. I sat down and talked to an older gentleman from Ireland. He told me of his daughter just having a baby, his life in Ireland, and told me to keep traveling.
I found new connections all over this country and felt inspired to document it by sketching.
I found a new connection to landscape and architecture. Most importantly, I found the courage to start a life that wasn't surrounded by the pain of my past, but rather inspired to live a life worth living. My drawings reflected the beauty of New Zealand's landscapes. My paintings showcased the sunsets. My photographs caught the amazing animals that call this country their home.
Inspiration is fluid.
The source of inspiration varies. It depends on your stage in life, or various events. It doesn't find you as you sit inside and stare at a canvas. The beauty of art is it's ability to reflect the artists emotions, passions, and experiences.
Put your phone down.
Turn off the TV.
Go on a trip by yourself.
Hike in a remote location.
Drive in one direction and see where you end up.
Talk to a stranger about their lives.
Ride a horse.
Go skinny dipping.
People go years being stuck; I am one of them. Sometimes the time is necessary to grieve or to process. Getting out of your comfort zone after you find you are lacking inspiration, can help you to grow as a person and as an artist. I remember how inspired and full of life I felt the moment I set foot in Auckland.
I fell in love with travel, art, and life.
One thing to take from this is, inspiration doesn't find you. It is a feeling you experience, triggered by something in your life. So don't feel frustrated if it's hard to find right away, remember, it can take a while to wake up!
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