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Cultivating Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy

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“A leaf fluttered in through the window this
morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun,
a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task
of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.”
—ANAÏS NIN
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- 39 -
Courting
Inspiration
Inspiration is an overused word in the creative field, but its value
is endless. Without inspiration, work either does not get done or
becomes stagnant.
To keep inspiration itself from getting stagnant, let’s think of a
few synonyms: exaltation, fancy, illumination, impulse, muse, moti-
vation, rumble, spark, and whim. Just reading that list can send
ripples of ideas through me and fill me with a desire to get into
the studio.
c hapter 3
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“Creativity comes from
looking for the unexpected
and stepping outside
your own experience.”
mASARU IBUKA
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courting inSpiration - 41 -
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So, how do you open yourself to inspiration? Taking pleasure in the little things in life can help.
Every action can be seen as an act of creation or of love. Washing the dishes while watching the
birds dance and the sun stream through the leaves can give you a fresh start to the day. Taking time
to sip a cup of coffee on the front porch before heading out can give your mind and heart time and
space for cultivating inner riches and illuminating thoughts.
Motivation to create new art springs not only from the little details in life but also from chang-
ing up routines. For instance, walking or riding your bike to work instead of getting in the car can
unexpectedly push the inspiration button. An object or a person you observe along your walk may
generate a whole new set of ideas. Inspiration can even come from noticing the elements alone—
such as lines, shapes, or colors.
I love to browse boutiques when I am traveling to get new ideas for color combinations or sub-
jects. For example, John Derian Dry Goods, a charming gift store on the Lower East Side in New
York City, always stirs my muse. I might start thinking about using magenta, gray, and a silvery tur-
quoise when I see it on a fabulous embroidered pillow in the window under the glaring streetlights.
And then, wait—what about embroidering paintings themselves? I imagine a whole new series of
mixed-media paintings with hand-stitched animals and floral motifs on canvas under a heavy gloss.
All this occurs because I take an evening stroll outside my hotel to see what other artists, crafters,
and designers are making. The possibility for inspiration exists in each moment on Earth, and stay-
ing open to those possibilities can ignite whole new worlds within us.
[ a trip to a favorite boutique can bring ideaS f or
new color combinationS or S ubjectS . ]
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