Hello dear followers and people who have just stumbled upon my blog,
I am happy that I am being discovered and that some are actually reading what I have written. It is quite a challenge for me to keep this promise to write, because I am stepping out of my comfort zone. Writing has never been my strongest suit and I doubt myself every time I have to write edit publish a post. Yet, I enjoy this. I think I love challenges and I see this is an opportunity to learn and grow. I just hope this is useful for you too.
I am not entirely sure why this blog post didn’t make to be the first one, because it is the beginning of everything. I am talking about the first steps then the artwork doesn’t exist at that point. Usually, it comes from inspiration, but that also comes from something. I am sorry that I am talking to you like children, trying to explain how much is 2+2… I understand that to many – it’s obvious, but this does count. Because it is important. And I am talking about observing.
A lot of us are observing and a lot of us have different methods of doing so. Not to mention, different interests. For some inspiration comes from the bubble of feelings or process. But that is a reflection. Conscious or not, something triggered our mind and there is a need to express that. Personally, I think it is so old school to explain your inspiration like ‘It just came to me’, ‘I wasn’t looking, it found me’ and other similar rather pretentious phrases. Maybe it’s true, but I haven’t experienced that. I don’t believe in muses and I don’t wait for the idea to come. I am always working to find it. Make it. So, if you are struggling to find an idea or feeling uninspired, maybe this post is perfect for you. Sure, my method might be strange or forced, but you can always alter it and do it your way.
I have been observing for… since I remember. I became more conscious about it when I moved to UK to study. I only moved from Lithuania, yet everything was different. I began noticing so many things around me. I think this is when I started to actually see what is happening around me. People’s facial expressions, actions, clothes, habits, traditions, manners… This experience was an eye opener and I will always be grateful for making this decision to move there. Anyway, it wasn’t that obvious to me when I had to make projects and it took me a little why to realize what I have (with a help of my tutors).
You don’t have to move to another country to learn to see things around you. I wish when I went to high school, somebody told me to look around and I’ll find it (inspiration). While, I always had something to paint and took pride in learning (copying) from the masters, I think I fully formed once I embraced observing.
So what did I do?
I used to take my sketchbook and go for a walk. Sit on the bench and watch people walk by. Visit cafes and listen people talk. I later stalked some people too. I sketched and took notes. Sometimes recorded using my phone or photographed. Of course, my interest was people and I was constantly fishing for something, but it was exciting. And it was such a great start to begin something! Even if I didn’t catch anything interesting, I was always able to reimagine of what couldn’t happen. Somehow, I was lucky enough to get some juicy stories going.
Having done this for years, I don’t carry my sketchbook as I used to any more. The phone took over and it’s ok. I just found that I blend in better and nobody notices me (hence the freedom to observe).
So if you never took a stroll around your neighbourhood and sketching or writing isn’t your thing, just use your phone. But first, I suggest to look around. Also, I urge you to leave your headphones at home, because sounds are essential too. If you can’t see, maybe you can hear something useful.
Moreover, you don’t have to leave your house if you manage your time well. The reason I mentioned about time management, because the internet and social media can literally take all your time. Not to mention it increases anxiety, makes you feel worthless, sad and depressed. But!
Social media can be a great source. In the last couple of years I have made works based on social media content. Besides looking for ideas, instagram as such, can provide with a great amount of material. It might sound like a shortcut, but it’s addictive and I personally wouldn’t recommend falling into the rabbit’s hole.
There are so many things you can collect.
– Physical items
You name it. Anything is possible. Whether you are observing on purpose or on your way to work/home/school, make sure you capture that moment or thing. Don’t carry on your mind, because eventually it won’t be the same. Or you might forget it. A simple note, a keyword on your phone can trigger that moment later. I usually take photographs. I am a visual person and think in images, so words don’t always come to me. A photograph is perfect if I can’t make a sketch or doodle.
I also like to collect some physical items such as napkins from cafes or flyers… I just find collecting a fun activity. I don’t like to hoarder and I never encourage anyone hoarding, so once you finish with your project and end up with a great amount of tokens – dispose it. Unless you feel some attachment or use all of that in your work. It’s just my preference.
I didn’t start reflecting until I did MA, where I had to run a blog about our practice. It was a reflective journal and found it rather therapeutical. Instead of critiquing my work, I had to look back at the process, express feelings of what I thought was working and what – wasn’t. Many times, it was a deal breaker and most importantly – it made me feel good about myself as an artist and become a confident one too.
Reflecting made me get over the fear of writing and find the words to describe how I feel it. I started using this method to reflect my observations and come up with an idea pretty fast. Speed is never a goal, but figuring out soon enough gives a great peace of mind. I need the time to make the work too. Whatever it takes, writing down and drawing mind maps is super helpful not just to get an idea of what I am about to make, but to understand the material I have. Of course, sometimes we don’t need to have all answers, yet it is useful to look for. It’s all about the journey and the details that appear within that process.
That’s how I work. Each project has more or less, but these are the core elements. I envy the artists can work without a piece of sketch, but it doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I wake up with an idea, but only because I witnessed some situation a day before or so. I enjoy observing people and the world. Each time I learn something about it and I can’t imagine doing it another way.
To summarise, don’t wait for an inspiration to come. A body needs food and so does the mind. There is always something. Some things are only noticed to only you and experience by only you. Everyone sees the world differently and there are no silly ideas.