What Does Inspiration Look Like?

11:24 AM


What inspires you? What makes you excited to create? I have recently discovered that messy, well-used, lived-in palettes inspire me! I've collected images of palettes for years and I always thought it was because of the wonderful colors all lined up in pretty rows like candy at the confectioner's shop. Instead, it seems the possibilities that are waiting to be discovered within the grains of pigment are far more exciting to me.

The messy, well-used look speaks of fun, challenges, and the pursuit of those possibilities!

This discovery came about kind of by accident. I went to move my palette that I use for the Imaginary Trips classes out of the way and as I stood gazing at the messy wells with paint splotches and splatters everywhere, I could feel a light hum begin to sing in my blood! Yes, I know this qualifies me for the lunatic fringe award, but still......there was something about it!

I used to be fanatical about keeping my palette clean.....obviously this is no longer a compulsion I suffer from!! I do try to keep the paints clean, but if I dip into a well with a dirty brush, I no longer panic. I've learned a lot about mixes......and fixing mistakes that way! (Not a recommended way of learning but highly effective.) I do try to keep the yellows clean because there aren't too many things that will spoil a painting faster than an icky yellow.

Instead, I find the "mud" left over from various paintings to often contain just the color I'm looking for! The grays are luminous and quite stunning. Or, if I want to throw in "something different," I'll often reach for leftover pigment from another painting session because I do hate to waste paint. This has led to some very intriguing paint combinations that I probably wouldn't have discovered any other way. Some of them are even successful!

Perhaps that's why I am so inspired by a messy, lived-in, well-used palette—all the possibilities it represents in not only new paintings, but new ways of seeing and combining pigment. Whatever it is, I hope to always feel that energy humming along in my blood whenever my eyes do chance upon my palette.

What inspires you?

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23 Creative Thought(s)

  1. That palette looks pretty darned clean to me! I love all the paraphernalia associated with painting--it's just fun, isn't it? Grown-up toys. Pretty photo here!

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  2. Only because it's the one I use for classes, Sue!

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  3. What always strikes me is the way paints that are supposed to separate on the paper, but never do, break up splendidly if you happen to leave a thin layer on the palette.

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  4. Charlene, do you use distilled water when you paint?

    If you do, it kills granulation in all but the heaviest of pigments!

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  5. I will keep your advice close to my heart as I struggle to learn watercolor - (I found myself hating to mess up my paint!!) I have sketched off and on for years but wouldn't mind your advice every now and then on my attempts at painting. I love your ability to leave white in your paintings and you use vibrant and beautiful colors! :)

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  6. Hmmm...maybe I'm inspired by messiness, too. That could explain the multiple piles in my office...!

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  7. I understand this! I think you'll be very inspired by the little watercolor palette of my student that I posted yesterday : http://www.anopensketchbook.com/2010/06/apparitions-of-ducks-more-happiness.html

    It is definitely these ordinary surprises that inspire me as well!

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  8. My palette is in about the same shape as yours... does that mean inspiration is beating a determined path to my door? ;-)

    I think the colors themselves inspire me. Kind of like being back in kindergarten... I just like to play with all the pretty colors!

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  9. I wish I had some inspiration at the moment. I feel like a dried up well, myself. Maybe it's the heat.
    Books and magazines about art inspire me. I always get excited when I see some new technique that I simply have to try.

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  10. Margaret, there's another secret to a well-used, lived in palette—it's experience. That's how we learn! Get in there and strive to mess that palette up! There's more paint to be had, so go making paintings! I'll see if I can remember to stop by!

    KJ, we gotta find a cure for this pilin' disease we've both got!

    You mean it hasn't already knocked and invited itself in yet, T? There's something to be said for pretty colors!

    Hey, Suzanne, yes, I did see the palette! Too cool and what sharp eyes your student had!

    Katie, sometimes we have to refill the well. Be gentle with yourself and when you feel the muse calling....follow. The well is not dry, at least not permanently.

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  11. Laure, as with your inspirational Fear post on the Imaginary Journey post, this one is fantastic.

    Talking about piles Kathy & Laure, I am sure I would probably win that contest. Especially since I now live alone I think I am worse LOL

    I too love the palette and all the myriad of colors and the possibilites that come from them.

    Again, thanks Laure and all who responded with such great responses.

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  12. Loved this, and thank you for the tip, by the way. I don't use distilled water but had been told I SHOULD. Now that I know it kills granulation, forget it!

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  13. I saw a round palette at the store today with a cover! Good for travel I thought.
    I'm inspired by seeing other's art!

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  14. Laure,
    I too like your palette and am drawn to it. During my Imaginary trip to Paris, I learned the value of using those leftover mixes of color. I was very happy with the colors we used and how I arranged them on my palette. This was a new palette I purchased for the class and found that my puddles like to stay small instead of spreading out....I tried sanding the surface of the mixing wells so that the paint would spread. That didn't work. Maybe I need to use it for a longer period of time? What is your experience with new palettes? Could be that I didn't use enough paint or water, that is a habit of mine.

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  15. Color inspires me. Not only in a pallette but elsewhere. Like when my DB wanted me to go with him to pick cherries. I don't even like cherries but I like to be outside so I went with him. Seeing those various hues of red on the tree made me want to paint cherries. I felt that little tingle of inspiration you talked about. I am usually outside whether it is physically or mentally when I get that feeling.

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  16. Hey, Martha, I had not thought about it but you're right...my piles were worse when I lived alone too!

    I used distilled water for years, Kate, because of mold. I'd rather have granulation!

    Lynn, who made the palette? I'd love to check it out.

    Christina, it may be the palette is made (all the paint puddles in one sport) or it may be that you did not rough up the surface enough (you can see the scratch marks in mine). I didn't gauge the plastic, but you can definitely tell it's been scrubbed and the longer you use it, the better it will get. Hope this helps!

    Yay, Lisa, I look forward to seeing the cherries and I'm also glad to know I'm not the only one that feels that hum!!! :•)

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  17. Oh my gosh this post was too funny! If your thoughts while looking at your splotches and splashes qualify you for the "lunatic fringe award", then I suppose I need to be completely institutionalized by now! I love your work and only a beautiful "creative" mind can execute such greatness! By the way...I have a new love for Edaname and your sketch just made me hungry!!! :)

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  18. I discovered in the first class I took with you that I love how watercolor paints mix. I love having just so many colors and mix quite happily with what is usually left on the palette. Once in a while I need a new color and there isn't room on the palette to get a clean color and I feel so bad about wiping out a mixing area. I love to reconstitute and reuse dried areas. Why oh why did I wait 50+ years to try these paints?

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  19. I, too, have heard that you should use distilled water to counteract mold. I've always resisted because of the cost in buying same (ok, I'm a cheapskate). Now I'm glad to know that it does affect the way pigments react. Thanks, Laure, for the tip.

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  20. This comment is going out to Margaret....I tried to get to your blog, but now your profile is locked and I don't know the name of your blog! Send me an email!!

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  21. Oh yes - that messy palette hue is often the best one for painting roads and paths I find.
    Some of the stock photos that I sell are of the colours on my white tile palette when they dry!

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  22. what a wonderful blog here. Love the little stars that fall from the cursor (??? how) and the way you write is also right up my alley. Pallets and the colors they have are so intriguing. And like you, the mixes from the last painting are usually the exact color for me as well and then I wish I could remember the combo. It's fun to skip thru the watercolor world here on the web and find gems amongst others collections.
    I will be back and now I'm a follower
    peace n abundance,
    CheyAnne
    http://cheyannesexton.etsy.com

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  23. Thanks Gillian!

    Hey, CheyAnne, thanks for stopping by! Look forward to seeing you again.

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