You know how when you take time away from a habit, it can be tough to get back in the groove? You sit down after a long break to, say, write or sculpt or something that used to be utterly routine, and... nothing. Nada. Zip. Wait, was that the fridge calling? I think I need to walk the cat. Did I remember to pick up dental floss at the store?
I've stared at the clay, doodled on paper, and done Google searches on creative inspiration. No dice. So I did the next best thing: I pretended I was wildly inspired, and made a moodboard of all that inspiration. And you know what? I think it worked.
Come see what's been inspiring me and I hope will keep inspiring me into fall and beyond.
take one: public domain photos fail
Since my scissors, glue, and craft supplies are still boxed up, I settled on a digital moodboard. Pinterest gave me lots of ideas (of course), so I set out to find photos in the public domain and Creative Commons. There are so many great (free) resources, I figured this part would be a breeze.
Wrong. I waded through hundreds of gorgeous landscapes, flower close-ups, cute animals, dramatic architecture, and hipster shoes. I drooled over beaches, got hungry over ice cream cones, and wished I could go jump in a lake like all the free-spirited kids I kept seeing. But nothing gave me the spark I needed.
So I went and got a sandwich. But you can see what I came up with on my Pinterest board.
Actually, I might have gotten a few sandwiches over a couple of days. And some ice cream. I may have also had a cocktail, but who's counting.
After mulling my stuckedness (TM), I realized I was looking at beautiful, artistic images to find something I loved. Instead, I needed to start with what I love to create, and find images to match.
So I went back to why I sculpt. I realized (duh) that I'm happiest sculpting meaningful, personal, sometimes witty, usually joyful, occasionally comforting moments of life. I love the sweet kisses, giddy laughter, intimate conversations, and sympathetic hugs. If I'm going to leave something behind in this world, I want it to be pleasing to the eye and (hopefully) smile-inducing.
...which is why public domain images wouldn't work this time. I realized (duh again) that I'm sculpting what I know, just like writers write what they know. No glossy public domain image can get more personal for me than my own photo library.
take two: curated, personal images
So here you have it: six highly personal, imminently meaningful photos from my life. These six sum up what I want to say with my art, and the joy I'd like to leave behind.
From the thousands of photos in my library, here are the six that capture my art inspiration:
- The best red velvet birthday cake ever made. The somewhat grainy photo can't capture the sheer perfection of this homemade-from-scratch cake that my friend gifted me on my fortieth birthday. I got to eat it surrounded by all my closest friends, which made that birthday especially fabulous. Why this photo: Celebrating life with friends and cake, what's not to love? Also, there's wine off-camera.
- Cat hug. Grendel appears here in a circa 2002 hug with her first kitty friend, Mr. Tip. She's never snuggled another cat (or person) like this again, and Mr. Tip went to kitty heaven a couple of years later, making this picture especially poignant. Never mind that Mr. Tip would snuggle anything warm and/or fuzzy. Why this photo: Some of the best moments include our pets.
- Three sisters. You might recognize this photo as direct inspiration for one of my sculptures. Since my sisters and I are scattered across the country, this is one of the very few pictures we have of the three of us together. Ever. Why this photo: Sometimes just hanging out with people you love feels like a little celebration.
- Baby shower balloons. My brother-in-law snapped this lovely photo many years ago at my sister's baby shower. All I remember from the party is these balloons and my sister laughing until tears ran down her face at one of the party games. Why this photo: Because every party should include someone laughing until they very nearly pass out. Besides, balloons.
- Holding hands in the snow. This picture was taken by the very talented Julie Napear to celebrate my engagement with my Kinder Half. Julie gamely flew to Brunswick, Maine for a photo session in 17-degree weather. Why this photo: I love the simplicity of this shot, and how much is unsaid. Not just "I'm marrying my best friend," but also, "I'm freezing to death."
- Wedding group hug. The morning of my wedding, I got dressed with only the company of my mother and maid of honor ( she of red velvet cake fame). Oh, and a photographer. One of the last things we did before heading to the ceremony was this spontaneous group hug. Fancy hairdos be damned. Why this photo: Because I want every significant event of my life to include a group hug with my favorite people. Even non-huggers seem to appreciate this once in a while.
Searching through all my old photos really did get me thinking. I want to sculpt a bride with her mother, new not-obviously romantic poses, and maybe figure out a way to include balloons. I need more cat sculpture, obviously, and definitely more group hugs. What if there's some way to commemorate milestone birthdays in sculpture? How can I engineer my figures to look like they're walking?
Now that you've seen my inspiration board, what do you think I should add to my sculpting repertoire? Tag @smallcompanyartworks on Instagram and let me know!