Monday, February 27, 2012

seeking your muse


Being a new mother, exotic travel is pretty much not an option at the moment, but there are countless examples of the Muse rewarding those who stayed put. Emily Dickinson, a pretty extreme example, moved back home to live in Amherst, Massachusetts and spent the bulk of her creative years living with her family in an upstairs bedroom. Not a very romantic idea! What most of us would call a boring or stifled life, she was able to find her Muse amidst the ordinary. But the truth is: no place is ordinary! Wherever we are, in the darkest city street, the most quiet country town, living with our parents in the upstairs bedroom, or in bright and shining Paris itself: we can find a unique way to draw inspiration and seek out our muse.

To begin it is important to identify and take time to visit the places that inspire you- and again these places don't have to be exotic- in fact the easier and more accessible they are in your daily life the better! To start this process of seeking your muse, select a few places that you enjoy going to. This is going to be entirely up to you and the environment that you live in and remember these places can always be evolving and changing.

Here are a few of my own favorite places right now-

The beach, the zoo, park, art museum, Sunday farmers market, construction site in our neighborhood, a street with historical houses, downtown city street

Once you identify the places that inspire you- you can begin seeking your muse in those places and opening your eyes to things that can be used in your creative projects. I've narrowed it down to a few large categories-


Nature will always be one of my personal favorite places to seek inspiration. You can find all sorts of beautiful color combinations, a multitude of shapes and SO MUCH pattern!

While it is easy to get wrapped up in thinking that inspiration pulled from nature needs to be big, picturesque and beautiful- often I find the best inspiration in simple things that could typically get overlooked-

1. bare and dead leaves provide great ideas for interesting shapes 2. fall leaves are a wonderful place to find color 3. berries provide inspiration for color and shapes 4. thistles are a great subject matter for sketching practice 5. dandelions and flowers that have gone to seed make for great shape inspiration 6. a bouquet of store bought flowers is a perfect place to find color 7. use the inside of a flower for inspiration 8. stalks and stems are an easy subject matter for sketching


Regardless of where you live you can ALWAYS find architectural details. From fancy precast detail on buildings to metal work to weathered wood- there are details in all kinds of houses and buildings that can be put to use in your creative projects.

The next time you are out and about try looking for architectural details. Pay attention to shapes and designs that "speak to you" or catch your eye. So many different architectural details could be turned into pattern or used for color inspiration and texture.

Snap a photo, jot down some notes or sketch the details that catch your eye. Challenge yourself to come up with ways that you can incorporate this inspiration into you different creative projects.

Not only do I LOVE eating food but it has also turned into one of my favorite places to find inspiration. In my opinion food is one of the most accessible and easy places to find inspiration when it comes to color, shapes and even subject matter. All you have to do is open the fridge or look down when you are eating a meal!

Look for food with bright colors or interesting color combos.

Pay attention to the shape of food on a plate, in a cup or on the cutting board.

The next time you are in the grocery store, pull out your camera phone and snap photos of colorful produce that catches your eye.


Industrial details are perfect to pull ideas for texture and pattern. From peeling paint to rusted metal to numbers and letters on signs- there is an endless supply of inspiration to be found on construction sites, rundown buildings and on city street corners.

1. look for objects with repeating shapes 2. lots of pipes lined up together turn into pattern 3. text and details on equipment can be used as inspiration in journaling projects. 4. bright colors found on a construction site are perfect for using in bold paintings. 5. Numbers are a fun element to add to graffiti inspired art. 6. more details on equipment can be used as interesting subject matter for photography.

If you are like me, it can be challenging to fit lots of outings into my busy schedule so when I'm in a pinch I go hunting around the house or my surroundings for interesting subject matter that can be used as inspiration in my creative projects.


Look for color and color combos around the house.

Zoom in on details of things that would otherwise get overlooked.

Dig through the trash- you NEVER know what you might find!

Keep your eyes peeled for interesting shadows and light that change throughout the day in your home.

Explore your environment. Take walks! Whether it’s in your back yard, a park, a line in the grocery store, the neighborhood, a quiet coffee shop- examine your environment with your creative eye.

Take your sketchbook or notebook on your daily errands. Jot down what you see, what strikes you with appreciation, beauty, simplicity, frustration, even scorn!

Keep a journal or sketchbook of your journey through daily life.

Be the creative detective or the journalist for your environment wherever you are. Often the most important and beautiful things are right under our noses. Our Muse rewards awareness!

I encourage you go forth and explore and embrace your environment! Too often we are easily lulled by the “grass is greener” mentality when it comes to our present locations. Remember, your Muse does not discriminate. If we all felt like we had to go to Paris to become inspired, our creative output would all be the same!


  1. Based on these examples I think I can define my sources as the following: I spend a lot of time at home as I live in a very isolated community which im not comfortable walking around in on my own so I look for inspiration from my window or in the home (until the weekend comes along and I can get away with my hubby). Things like the sky and macro photography are reliable sources. I wouldn't say they were my favourite but they produce ideas. Cosmetics and fabrics inspire me greatly even though I'm not really into fashion or glamour. Flowers inspire me. As do fragrances from wines, teas and perfumes. I also like visiting heritage homes and sites. I could spend all day in a social history museum. I also love antiques and skips- that's the property developer in me I think. I don't really find people interesting, I find the stuff they have around them, which they believe defines them, interesting. This is a very intriguing observation.

  2. I love that phrase, "be a creative detective".

    Some of my favourite places are my own little garden, in any season. It's small, but I know every plant! I love how the colours and texturs change.

    Central London, where I travel for my Day Job. Wondeful for peopel watching, window shopping in Oxford Street, and architectural details.

    Any museum or art gallery anywhere, the quirkier the better.

    A stream.

    A field.

    The supermarket.

    Pound shops (stores where everything costs £1).

    Eavesdropping on the bus or in a cafe.

    Being back home in Australia, everything looks new and fresh after six months or a year away.