When things appear bleak, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for inspiration.
If you’d like a few tips about using art as an “Inspirational Modality”, here are some ideas that I use myself, especially when feeling down and out.
What does it really mean when we say we need to be inspired? Most of us think of inspiration as something that makes us feel better, and that is certainly very true. Yet inspiration has a broad spectrum of meaning. It may mean the simple stimulation of happier emotions, or it can refer to the stimulus itself that creates a heightened state [as in, “That tree was my inspiration”] of awareness or connection.
Inspiration may also apply to the influence of the Higher Power upon the soul or mind. It is very closely related to the word “inhalation”, which means to breathe air into one’s lungs, and indeed this is how inspiration often feels – like a breath of fresh air. Another use of the word inspiration is a creative outcome itself, such as a painting, a song, or a poem, or the creative solution to a problem – the outer result of being inspired from within [as in, “that drawing was her very own inspiration”]. Inspiration covers a lot of territory, from positive stimulus, to response, to the resulting work of art itself!
So, how is inspiration useful?
All we have to do to be reminded of the perplexing state of the world, politics, or the economy, is to go to our inbox, social networking sites, magazines, newspapers, or turn on the radio or television. We are inundated with information which is anything but inspiring. In fact it’s usually depressing. The “bad news” usually elicits any number of negative responses – from discouragement and disappointment to out and out fear and panic. [Relief of course can be found through the pharmaceuticals sponsoring the same programs and publications which promote “the bad news”. Isn’t that fascinating?]
However, this need not be the name of the game. One wholesome solution for counteracting this is something that provides inspiration and promotes a healthy imagination. When these morbid specters conjure images in our minds of worst case scenarios, turning to art for inspiration can provide relief and the necessary inspiration to dissolve the grim images vying for control of our thoughts. It may even put you on an entirely new path!
I call this dancing through the darkness. Maybe even dancing your way out of the darkness.
How might that work, you may ask?
Let’s begin first of all by shutting off the television, radio, so called social media – all the electronics. Toss away the newspaper – there’s nothing “new” under the sun anyway. Just separate from the source of negativity!
Next, if you do not regard yourself as “artistic”, you might consider attending an art fair, an art center, or visiting a museum. Even many small towns are home to these creative venues and amenities nowadays.
If not, there are books featuring full color prints by many famous artists from Michaelangelo to Warhol and more. A simple web search on “paintings” will bring inspiration right to your laptop. There is really no limit to how much beauty can be accessed without even leaving your easy chair! It’s merely a matter of choosing to be inspired with positive images rather than allowing yourself to be continually bombarded by images which leave you despondent.
However, if you are already inspired to exercise your imagination by drawing or painting, then your Inner Creator may already be nudging you to boldly go where you’ve never gone before.
The best way to begin is simply and inexpensively!
Find yourself a few sheets of unlined paper, even printer paper, and a number 2 pencil. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit quietly for a few moments and see if anything pops into mind, such as “tree” or “dog” or “house”. Then take a crack at drawing from your imagination. If you like, you might want to look through a magazine to see if you can draw a picture of one of the photographs in it, or a stack of your own photos. Start with something simple if drawing is new to you.
Or begin simply by deliberately doodling with a little relaxing and/or upbeat music in the background. This means you’re relaxing and letting a flow of lines and forms emerge from within through your hand onto the paper. I find this to be a great relaxer that works far better than sleeping pills, if you have trouble falling asleep.
The important thing is not to be discouraged or harsh with yourself regarding what you come up with. This is not a contest; it is a way to inspire and soothe your mind. It is also vital not to give up on the process. You learn to draw by drawing – the art teaches you because it comes from your Inner Creator – the greater You inside of you! As you gain confidence, you may want to take a class, or sign up to study with a private teacher, one who can be supportive and patient with your efforts.
[Photo is the author’s imaginary painting in acrylic called Dancing Through The Darkness. It was inspired by the winter wind on a starlit night.]