Today we’re featuring a guest post from accomplished visual artist Amy Buchheit. Amy was one of the creatives I interviewed on my cross-country U.S. road trip last year; a profile of her and a short video was posted recently to this blog. Enjoy her post below:
When Patrick asked me to write a guest blog, I had no idea what I was going to write about. “Any topic you want” is a pretty broad scope! I went to my Facebook page and asked my friends, family and fans what they would like to hear about. The one request I received was to write about creative inspiration.
I’ll admit, I avoided writing for days. Why? Because inspiration hadn’t struck. The topic seemed too big to tackle in one guest blog … until I thought about where inspiration comes from. That was easy to explain – it comes from being in action. In other words, it comes from work.
I’ll admit there are times when inspiration seems to strike at random. I am grateful for those moments, where an idea seems to float down from the sky on golden sunbeams, or appears in a sudden burst like a beautiful firework display. But if I look to what occurred in the hours and days before, I realize that I had been in action. That, rather than some divine revelation, had been the source of the inspiration.
One thing is sure: If I waited to work until I was inspired, I would never do it. Frank Tibolt said, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” I find this to be one of the most accurate descriptions of the creative process I have heard to date.
For example, here is what a day in the studio looks like: I pull out cleaning rags, put water in a container for my brushes and make sure the spray bottle has distilled water in it. I light scented candles in my Nightmare Before Christmas candelabra and put CDs in the player or put on a Pandora Quick Mix. I prepare my Stay-wet palate by soaking the sponge and paper, placing them inside their container, selecting paint colors and squirting or scooping out appropriate amounts. When needed I pull out reference photos and/or sketches I will use to guide my work. Then and only then do I set brush to canvas.
If I am lucky, inspiration comes early on. Time seems to disappear and I am guided as if by some unseen force. Some would say that God is there while others would claim the Universe is providing. Whatever label we give it, it is a blessing. It makes the work far easier and much more pleasurable. And, it is still work.
When I’m not so lucky, I can work all day without that creative spark. I do the exact same rituals to start my day, and work just as I would on days where inspiration strikes. I do everything “right” … and yet, the results can go so wrong! Those days, I remind myself to be grateful for the ability to do the work, even when it doesn’t come out the way my ego wants it to.
I can’t speak to exactly what creative inspiration is. People have used God and Universe, among other things, to explain it throughout the centuries. Over the years I have discovered what is behind inspiration, though. I have learned to trust that if I put myself in front of the canvas, those smooth, delicious, inspired moments will come if I let them. But first, I have to do the work.
Amy Buchheit is a painter and photographer living in Vancouver, Washington. As a Signature Member of the International Society of Acrylic Painters, her work has been shown on local, regional, national and international levels for more than a decade. Amy is “committed that the viewer connects with [her] work on a deep, healing level, taking something valuable away in the process.”