Looking for the lightbulbs…

Hi there curious folks, this week I want to talk about lightbulbs and I don’t mean the kind that I’m still waiting for my husband to change (it’s been over 6 months, the spotlights are really high up I admit, but above my wardrobe, so each morning it’s like looking into a dark cave trying to decide what to wear!).

Anyway, back to the point, no, I’m talking about those delicious light bulb moments of inspiration that often strike at the craziest of times. For me it’s either 4am, bolt, wide-awake style with a sudden list that I then try really hard to remember in the morning or when I’m strolling in the woods with the dog, the rhythm of my pace, gearing up the idea’s factory.

These days there is enough space in my head for these moments to happen, but when I worked in a really busy role, it happened a lot less. So, what happens if those magic light bulb moments don’t happen? Should you just give up, or should we go in search of divine inspiration?

Well you know what my answer will be! To be honest there are so many sources of inspiration out there now, there really is no excuse –  it’s become so much easier to find them and make them work for you.

For example, take the book I’m reading currently ‘Conscious Creativity’ by Instagram sensation @5ftinf, Philippa Stanton, who recommends looking deep into your own personal traits to become aware of your own triggers.

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She asks the questions that we probably never really ask ourselves to identify these creative triggers and it’s an interesting exercise to work out what kind of creative person you are.

She asks questions like, are you a words person, do you consider yourself to be mathematical, do you accumulate, collect, or are you a minimalist, to name but a few.

This is especially useful for those people who really want to start a creative hobby but have no idea where to start, she then moves on to look at your own aesthetic and creative preferences such as what kind of designs appeal to you, modern or traditional, do you prefer sitting in dark or light spaces, do you feel drawn to textiles?

Again, it’s a really interesting exercise to just focus the mind on what you really enjoy doing creatively.

In my experience, one creative outlet has led to another and now I have a trio of interests that actually, accidentally, work really well together.

My first interest was writing, that stemmed from childhood and a wild imagination, see Writing for my history as to how all that began. Next came Art, probably encouraged by a very artistic dad who used to draw birds and animals regularly and then finally as an adult I got into photography.

Quite often now, I will take a photo for my @soothedbynature Instagram account, which I then need to caption, and rather just writing anything, I use it as a mini-writing exercise of description, thinking carefully about the words I choose so that the story befits the image and the feeling that I’m trying to convey to my followers.

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 I have a thing about hogs weed, their shape really appeals to me!

Later, I might then use that photo to use in a painting or drawing – I’m not very good at just imagining a painting in my head, I need something to refer to and this way I always have a huge bank to choose from! Or I may collect something from a walk in the woods, pine-cones, acorns, leaves and feathers for example to then create a display at home to draw.

When I did my first short-story for the Yorkshire Writers Lunch Blog, it was a photo of the fields down to the wood, that is overlooked by a bungalow, that inspired the story as I often wondered if the people in that house sat at the window watching walkers tramp down to the woods.

It can be even something as simple as naming a painting with a play on words, I like to give them a memorable name that is unique rather than just stating what it is, for example the one below is called ‘Autumn leaves a rainbow’, playing on the word leaves, it’s just yet another small way you can work that creative muscle.

Autumn leaves painting

Another example of this is a painting I bought at Staithes Art Festival last year, not only did I love the painting, but it was its title that made me love it even more and instinctively buy it.

Named ‘The Habit’, because the painting was of a hare crossed with a rabbit, it was perfect for my office at a time when I was trying to create space and time in my day to make my writing more of a habit. I knew by looking at that picture it would keep that at the forefront of my mind.

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‘The habit’ by the fab artist Daub at www.daubart.com

This brings me on to another area on inspiration. I’m very much the kind of person who needs sources of inspiration throughout my home, I need my home to be interesting, a feast for the eyes that feeds my soul too. When typography pieces of art became the trend around 5 years ago, it made me very happy being a ‘words’ person! However, I try not to go overboard and only choose ones that truly mean something to me or are a bit more unique.

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Added to this, one thing I’ve discovered is that I’m really drawn to texture in a big way and colour too. I’ve attributed this to the love of my walks, crumbling dry-stone walls, old wrinkly trees, the smooth waters of reservoirs, dramatic sunset skies and the intricate patterns of leaves or butterflies’ wings; they all really appeal to the way my brain works!

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Just one of my many rugged wall shots, accompanied with a sunrise and a sprinkle of snow

I think it also stems from living in a barn with a huge brick fireplace, chunky beams and a stone kitchen floor, interspersed with soft fur throws, strings of lights, decorations and fluffy cushions – the more rugged, contrasting and quirky the better for me and the cosier I feel.

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Birds and words, what’s not to love?

Much to my family’s distress, (mainly due to the number of them rather than they are that bad!), I also put up my paintings around the house, and not just the ones that are the best of my collection. This is purely to remind me of how far I’ve come and if ever self-doubt kicks in, I can see how I got from there to here and that I will (hopefully!) continue to improve.

This love of textures transfers to my photography and my art pieces, you’ll see a number of rugged Yorkshire walls on my feed and different art techniques, learned mainly from the great artist Pippa Ashworth, included in my paintings, an example of which is below.

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External to my home environment, as well as my walks, fashion and trends also inspire me. I love seeing the new collections come out and this year I’m going to try and experiment with my art to include some of these new trends relating to pattern and colour.

This year the pantone colour of the year is ‘Living Coral’ and if past years are anything to go by, you’ll see this colour starting to translate into fashion pieces, interiors, stationery and gifts throughout the year.

I listened to a great podcast on this – ‘Elevate Your Curiosity’ episode 20 by Joanne Griffin from @arnoldandbird interviewing Elizabeth Stiles, a fashion retail consultant, who talked about how the colour ‘living coral’ will translate into the retail space and how it links in with bigger issues such as climate change.

It’s a really interesting concept to see how the simple choice of a new on-trend pantone colour can actually have a big impact on what we then see in shops.

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Living coral and animal print – two of the biggest trends this spring season

Next, there’s the online world and a huge source of inspiration to be found on platforms such as Blogs, Podcasts, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, although I’d say when it comes to creativity, Instagram is by far the best.

The sheer numbers of creative people out there on Insta is a bit mind-blowing, but if you narrow down your searches to what you are most interested in it is more manageable.

I’ve learned so much from other creatives out there online I wouldn’t know where to begin but the thing I like most is that it is a more friendly and supportive space, with people willing to give you help and advice – just try not to get too addicted or into comparison syndrome – everyone started at the beginning, just like you.

Podcasts are also a brilliant resource to just listen to the many experts out there whilst you’re doing some mundane task such as driving the kids about or washing up. This totally appeals to me as I feel like I’m constantly learning, and building up that knowledge to help me along my creative journey.

Now finally on to the best and most important source of inspiration for me, personally, are the people that I surround myself with, the human faces and interactions and in particular the people I call my creative tribe.

Without becoming a member of my local Art Group there is no way I would have had the knowledge or courage to try the many different art techniques I didn’t even know existed.

This simple, small village, art group has opened up a whole new artistic world and it’s literally like going to Charlie’s chocolate factory each week for me as I stare in wonder at the other artists ridiculous talent or watch one of the professional artists demos and think how on earth do they make it look so easy?

Then there’s the writing group I’ve also joined where Gale, an ex-creative writing teacher sets us really interesting writing tasks that spark the imagination, leaving us scribbling furiously away and usually coming up with at least the beginnings of a short story. Again, I’m amongst like-minded, supportive people and there’s nothing more encouraging or inspiring than that.

If there is one thing to take away from this piece it would be that, people inspire people and when you are part of a small, colourful, creative community it is so much easier and less-scary to pursue that creative dream.

I hope these ideas have encouraged you to go in search of inspiration and chase whole-heartedly the thing you love and are desperate to start doing more of. I’d really appreciate your comments if this has ignited a fire in your belly!

Now, I just need to figure out how to inspire the hubs to change those damn lightbulbs, his trigger is all things mathematical and food, so maybe if I say ladder + lightbulbs = a big bag of dark chocolate pretzels?…

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

As always, The Curious Cave is my long list of resources and inspiration that includes the podcasts, books and insta accounts I’ve talked about above.

And if you live local to me (Huddersfield, West Yorkshire), you can check out the first workshop I’m holding, ‘Playing with Writing’ this coming Thursdsay (Feb 7th), please contact me asap if you are interested as there are only a few places left, thank you.

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