The romantic image of the artist, head in the clouds and full of lofty ideals, persists in our imaginations. Although this is something of a stereotype, an essential part of an artist’s work is discovering inspiration, and keeping that inspiration flowing. Where do they find new ideas to develop their craft?

The beauty of nature
We’ve all been there - the feeling of being overwhelmed by schedules bursting at the seams, trying to process the barrage of information constantly vying for our attention. In moments like these, the contrast of a breath of fresh air, or a glimpse of a vibrant blue sky can be striking.

The beauty of nature captivates artists, too, and often serves as inspiration for the beautiful works of art they create. As Canadian artist Danielle Trudeau puts it, “nature takes on endless forms”. From the way light dances on different surfaces, to the vibrant range of colors found in nature’s paint box, the natural world has ignited the imagination of artists for years.

Like Smoke by Danielle Trudeau

Music is an art in its own right. It has the ability to make us feel surges of emotion, and sometimes even transports us to a different time through the memories it evokes. Music has the power to unite people, no matter how different, through the shared experience of enjoyment and emotion. All this, from simple vibrations in the air.

Visual art also has the power to reach into a person and bring to light feelings and attitudes, engaging the viewer by eliciting a response, whether positive or negative. It is not surprising then, that music can inspire the creation of fine art. Many art pieces are created with great emotion, such as the genre of action painting, which emphasizes the emotional intensity of the painter.

Abstract artist Henrik Soderstrom teaches at a university and he finds one source of inspiration on the job. The intellectual curiosity of his students shape the way he thinks about art, and discussions with colleagues from other disciplines influence his artistic process by offering new perspectives.

Art may often be an exercise in emotion, but it can also push you to think harder. It’s something that can be applied anywhere, not just in art. Ideas inspire by providing material for whatever we may be working on, and chasing new ideas and concepts that seem unfamiliar opens the mind up to possibilities outside of our usual patterns of thought.

Intimate Immensity by Henrik Soderstrom

Muses. The greatest artists – whether painters, musicians, or poets – all seemed to have one, someone who inspired them to create. Today’s artists are inspired by people in more ways that simply wanting to pay tribute to a muse. Irish Artist Helena Grimes may portray non-human creatures in her art, but what informs her piecs is her exploration of human interaction and relationships.

Between the Pages by Helena Grimes

Pablo Picasso said that “art is a lie that makes us realise the truth”. In many ways, great art does not present facts or accurate representations of reality, but truths about ourselves and how we relate to others. Art is a representation of how we view and treat each other. The beauty of finding inspiration in the people around us is that we learn as much about ourselves as we do of them.

The Act of Creating
No matter how talented and passionate, all artists have bad days. Inspiration is nowhere to be found, something just doesn’t look quite right, or they’re simply not in the mood. The act of creating art itself is sometimes enough to get out of that rut. The equal odds rule, a psychological theory, suggests that the probability of creating ‘great work’ is the same as that of creating ‘bad work’. In other words, work at your craft often enough and you’re bound to produce something beautiful.

As Julia Watson puts it, "I get inspiration at the easel…You have to get in the studio and start painting, then inspiration comes as you’re working." Sometimes, just showing up to the studio and making that first brushstroke is all an artist needs to get the creative juices flowing.

What artists essentially put to the canvas is how they experience the world, not just what they see. They get new ideas everywhere, and from anything that strikes their fancy. In the same way, finding inspiration in even the most unlikely of places is something that anyone can do - the beauty of everyday life is already there, ready to inspire whoever cares to find it.