“Where do you get your ideas?”

January Hyacinths

“Where do you get your ideas?” I hear this question often. Sometimes people ask this question of me; other times, I will be in a meeting of artists, teachers, craftspeople, or entrepreneurs. I heard this question asked again last night, and for some reason, it really struck me. It sparked a discussion about creating mental space for ourselves, journaling, saving ideas in different formats, walking, and daily routines. I was reminded of exercises I give art students ; meditation, journaling, free association drawing, or other quick exercises to simply put the mind into what I like to call a kind of free fall.

Many people assume that artists, designers, musicians, actors, or designers are the people who have creativity. How often do I hear my beginning stitch and dye students say, “I am not creative”. I always ask them what their interest is. I try to show them that whether they are in nursing, marketing, psychiatry or finance, that creativity is seminal to their work. That letting go will benefit them even if they do not make art most of the time. I encourage them to journal about things they want to do or are interested in.

When I am in my studio, I have an activity that, over the years, I have finally given a name to: “circling”. I will enter the shop, turn on the heat if its winter, open the big door if its summer, walk around, sweep sawdust, arrange this or that, pick something up, maybe move buckets of water or fix the hose… and each activity brings me closer and closer to my work table. But, all the time, all of the ideas that are inside of my subconscious creative brain are slowly waking up and bubbling to the surface.

It is the same with writing. For example, this morning, I woke up with the above question in my mind( I did write it down the night before, but had to refer to the journal to get the wording exactly right). Then, I did the other tasks, my morning walk, my meditations, my homely tasks, my correspondences and other things that “had to happen now”; and, finally, with my mind open, I walked outside with my camera to find an image that would crystallize the concept I wanted to convey.

We tend to think that if we do not have huge blocks of time, our creativity will wither and lose color, like this hyacinth. But, it is beautiful in the stage it is in. In the summer, the flower was a bright blue.

July Hyacinth

Like the hyacinth, our creative brain ebbs and flows, but the roots are always there, as long as we remember to remain open to the flow. If we wait until we think there is time, the time will never come, because there is never enough time in our lifetime. But time expands when we make the most of it.

Thanks for reading.

Carol LeBaron