What Inspires You?

I was taught that “great artists wait for inspiration to come to them, and then they create.” So obviously, if I wanted to become a great artist, I needed to wait for inspiration to come. Well that’s just total BS.

Bringing Light to the World

Smart me! I didn’t believe it. Life moves faster than that. And I don’t wait well.

I have a hard time with old adages. I question EVERYthing. Old, in these times, means either venerated and sure as can be; or outdated, worn out and no longer applicable, even destructive.

I test them all. Because I have found that what worked for Bruegel or Cezanne or Picasso or O’Keeffe might not work for me.

It took a lot for me to really ‘get’ that just about anything can be inspiring. And when I get inspired, watch out, because I become creative lightning on two feet.

Why wait?

I could wait forever, sitting here with my face hanging out, bored and starving to death, when I could be happily busy creating!

People tell me I inspire them. I love that! I consider it my mission in life to bring light to the world. When people say, “You inspired me to (do art, write, sing . . . ) it thrills me no end.

So I learned how to make inspiration come meet me halfway.

People ask me how I do that. Here ya go:

I get it to come to me by taking the time to brainstorm ideas, writing down lists of all the ideas I can think of.

I also maintain a sense of situational alertness that helps me notice odd or unusual things right in the moment.

Here’s how that could look — this is one that came to me:

My mind, focused on something else, suddenly said, “see that girl over there? See that green gem on her headband? Doesn’t that remind you of the Egyptian head-dress you saw in the museum in San Francisco in 1986?”

And all at once I had a mental image of a carving I would do later on. It could have been a painting, a drawing, a story — didn’t matter — the image was blasted into my mind clear as day.

Most often, ideas pop into my head as I’m about to fall asleep, so I keep pen and paper by my bed.

In case you haven’t done your own lists yet, here are a few that could trigger ideas for you.

things that piss you off
things that you’re passionate about
things that you wish you had, or could do
exploring words — familiar, and weird
doubts and fears
dreams — both daydreams and night dreams
why are you here
(for me, personally:
how pain bugs the shit out of me, and what I would/could do without so much pain in my life)
who would you want to support if you were rich, and why

I save my lists in a folder called, oddly, IDEAS. I dive into them when I can’t think of anything that moves me.

Here are some more.

I’ve had a long crazy life, so I listed each year from birth, and put events in each slot that applied.

Like this:
1963: kicked out of school a month before graduation, then invited back.
2009: gall bladder mutiny, I almost die, life after that is a blessing

Here are some ideas for your events list.
childhood events
school events
summer events
current events
historical events
events that hurt
events that you healed from
events that awed you
illnesses and their effect on you or someone else
child birth/growth/death
death of …
new job
getting fired
starting out on your own
buy new house/sell old house
becoming a perpetual traveler
adventures — at home and abroad

Then there is the list of people. List all the people you know who have had any influence at all in your life. Some names will trigger stories, others may not.

As an artist, I look for and see hundreds of pieces of art every day. My eyes/mind/curiosity eats them like candy — they nourish me and help me keep my mind expanded. So I make a point of bookmarking, noting, and returning to many of the images I see, both online and off. Do that.

go through (and get triggered by):
your favorite artists’ works
artists’ works you hate
gallery exhibits
online shows
google images
your own past works

buying/selling houses
climbing mountains
I could go on, but you get the point.

Naturally, there are a megazillion other things you could add to any of those lists or make new lists with, but maybe one or more of these items will help you get a leg up on your next story.

I hope this was helpful!


Image: Bringing Light to the World
© Angela Treat Lyon


Shameless self-promo:
I invite you to check out my latest drawings and lots of other art:

More: LyonArtandDesign.com

Prints of just about all of my drawings and paintings are available — let me know if you’d like one.



I was told by a very successful marketer, “You should never add links to your website in your posts.”

How do you feel about that? Does seeing my art here, and reading about my creating it, make you curious and want to see more?

Do you like it that including my instagram and website links makes it easier for you to go explore and see more? Please let me know! Thanks!

Comments are closed.