How to Find Inspiration and the Birthplace of Ideas

by Laura Pollak, PSWC, PSA, PSNC, SPS

Where ideas are born…
I’m often asked where I get inspiration for some of my ‘wild’ paintings. Well there’s inspiration everywhere! Look all around you. The chair you’re sitting in or the silverware you use at your meals, someone has designed it.  Even the cracks in the pavement can offer inspiration!  Do you all remember that strange book way back in 1993, that was the wild rage called the  Celestine Prophecy? The gist of the book was that ideas and opportunities are all around us and that we just need to be receptive to recognizing them.

A newer book that I have enjoyed is THE BIG MAGIC by none other that the author of Eat, Pray, Love; Elizabeth Gilbert. Her unique philosophy is that Ideas are swirling around in the universe waiting for a human to seize them and bring them to life.   At first glance this seemed ridiculous but since reading her book [which I highly recommend for anyone in the arts] I’ve come to believe her!  She states that ‘Ideas are driven by a single impulse; to be made manifest.’   The concept is that if you don’t recognize a good idea, the idea will find another way or person to bring it to life! Gilbert states,  “Therefore, ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing partners.” I’ve come to really believe this ‘wooowoo’ philosophy.   Many a night I’ve sat bolt upright from sleep with a vision of what needs to be expressed on my easel, and if I don’t get to it quickly the idea will find another willing collaborator!

I keep lists of ideas on my iPad, and if on the rare occasion I run out of concepts to paint, I simply scroll through my hundreds of collected thoughts and start to play. Not only do I get inspiration from everyday objects around me but from words, phrases, lyrics, music, and of course nature where you can find fractals and fibonacci patterns.  (If you’ve never heard of those look them up and be enthralled!) Ideas are also born by making ‘connections’ between shapes and forms that are all around us. Pieces of jewelry, or architecture. When I first saw Frank Gehry’s architectural wonders, I couldn’t look away.  He carves space like no other!  Who says we cannot pull inspiration from another artist!   

In a little book that was given to me when I was in advertising called A Technique for Getting Ideas, by James Wood Young (btw, you can find this bitty 60 page book free online) the bottom line is that there are no new things under the sun but the recombination of ideas is the true creativity! So when I looked at Pinterest page and saw a beautiful pin it sparked a whole series of ideas around our current pandemic and I call this the Covid Series.  The graphic shape of the pin gave me a window to express what was going on inside my head and out in the world.   Here are a few pieces that will show the progression. I’m still not finished exploring this vein yet.   I constantly see new combinations that need to be expressed.   Whether these paintings go anywhere or not, the ideas are lingering around my psyche and until it’s on the easel it will nag me until it is finished.

So when you’re in search of your next idea, simply look around, make new connections, and listen to the universe before those ideas find a new owner.

Progression of an idea…The COVID Series

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