A Spur With No Horse

Hansel And Gretel Were Here

Hansel And Gretel Were Here (a painting in process)

I’m joining a million other blogs out there on inspiration, I know. However, I am participating in an event at the end of the month during which five artists from different creative fields will talk about inspiration: what’s it made of, where it comes from and what you do with it when you’ve got it. I need a place to get some ideas down.

[ Event info : Culture Cafe, Alton Mill Arts Centre, Alton Ontario, Friday January 30th 7-9PM ]

Here’s my take: Problem + Search for Solution = Inspiration. It’s not “where do you get your ideas?” The correct question is “where do you get your problems?” Or the more difficult “how do you keep believing your problems have solutions while you are fruitlessly hashing away at them?”

If it’s all about problem solving, it’s all about having problems. Wait, there’s more. It’s about having problems in the presence of the belief that you have solutions. So inspiration requires belief lest it be just a spur with no horse. You must have hope and you need to be optimistic in order to take your inspiration on its journey. But artists are often bleak, moody – even suicidal. Do the dark-natured fit into this definition?

My nose is chapped, my lips are dry, my hands are covered with little scrapes and cuts. This frigid, dry weather is a problem and I’ve just decided that problems are at the root of creation. So bad weather is inspiring?

I have no solution for bad weather. I just keep applying the spur until a horse magically appears under me. The weather doesn’t improve, but sometimes I get a painting anyway. This underpainting for Hansel And Gretel’s forest is very chilly, a direct result of riding the horse I conjured.


6 thoughts on “A Spur With No Horse

  1. For me, it’s not about inspiration at all. I don’t think “how am I inspired” rather “what choices have I made?” It’s about choices and consequences. When faced with a choice I ponder it until my “truth” reveals itself and I take action (or not). Is that inspiration?

    1. I think so. Any time you make a choice, you are thumbing through a bunch of options. Inspiration, however slight or mundane, is what you use to make your choice. If the process leads you to make new connections and push existing knowledge into new forms, then you are elevated (inside your own head at least).

  2. How very Jungian a topic. Here is what Carl has to say on this subject: “The serious problems in life are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost. The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly.” (From “The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche”)

    1. It’s all about the journey. That’s the feeling I always have in the studio. It doesn’t always lead me to make pieces that are satisfying objects when separated from their creation. After the journey is over, and for the viewer who was not on the journey, does the object have any resonance?

  3. I think inspiration happens in the trials of solving one problem while creating another and trail you follow with all the twists and turns until you forget the original problem and what happens is inspiration. Does that make sense, no because inspiration never does.

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