What Inspires Me?

Michelle Genders of Port Macquarie, Australia is creating work daily based on what inspires her.

Why did you decide to do this project? My theme for the October 2019 Creative Sprint was "What inspires me?" I thought I only had a small amount of time and energy to devote to it. I was surprised to find that even when there was very little time, there were still some decent outcomes. Even if the outcome wasn't that great on a particular day, the creative act helped move me to a new place for the next day and sometimes lead to something great on a future day.

Then there were days when there actually was quite a bit of time and space to unleash the muse! I so enjoyed stepping back into the creative flow and making it a priority. It is so compelling once I have the urge to make something, I just can't stop till it's done. My current daily practice is often experimental drawing, but it is also really fun to mix it up by opening up to any material or medium according to the idea I get in response to the prompt.

I'm continuing on to complete a 365 project on the “What inspires me?” theme. I found there has been so much wisdom in contemplating this question. I felt like each time I answered it, I uncovered another layer. I want to know what's underneath all the layers! I've experienced the momentum that gets built up with Creative Sprint for one month and I've long wanted to see how that evolves when sustained for a 365 project.

Noah recently posted that he did 365 skulls because "it just came to me!" I’ve had the same experience, and following what comes to me has lead to some fantastic places. I’ve completed monthly themes of 'public art', 'blues', 'change is the only constant', 'spirals' and 'inside outside'. Although these were good while they lasted, I was ready to let them go at the end. I've been waiting for a theme that I can commit to for a whole year – and it has finally come! 

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? I've had a daily creative practice since 2016 when I first became involved in the Creative Sprint community. I've completed eight Creative Sprints as well as Skull-A-Day. I also completed more than 365 sticky note drawings and put them out into the world.

It has really entrenched my daily art making. Previous to that, I was making art regularly, but it was quite separate from daily life. I would generally do paid work on some days and do art making on the other days. I would carefully select materials then spend months and months on one work and kept it in my studio until it was exhibited.

Creative Sprint led to the collapse of the boundaries between art and life – now I can make art anywhere at any time using anything I can get my hands on! You are forced to consider the world around you and the resources that you have available to quickly implement solutions and effectively communicate them visually within 24 hours. That leaves little room for perfectionism and a lot of room to follow curiosity. Taken alone, what I make each day might be either a meh or yeah! Taken together, it keep me creatively fit. I make surprising discoveries every day when I approach the world in the way that a Creative Sprint prompt helps cultivate. If I hold the prompt lightly and look out for the "sparks" and follow them,  the world becomes a place of play and possibility. It is exciting to see what might happen on any given day!

Sometimes when I read the prompt, I know immediately what I want to do. Mostly, it takes a couple of hours for an idea to coalesce. Occasionally I’ll draw a complete blank and it doesn't get resolved until the 11th hour. In any case, I have learned to trust that something will fall into place that is right for me on that day, given the resources that I have access to.

I’ve completed daily projects while on vacation. It’s inspired me to do more than just look at and take photos of things. Creatively responding to the new places I’m visiting makes the experience of travelling even more fun! When there is downtime, for example while waiting for a train connection, it is great to have something to do. When the day is full of activities, it forces spontaneous and unexpected decisions.

I completed the Skull-A-Day project because I disliked skulls. I challenged myself to work with something I felt was ugly and scary. At the end of the project, I had less fear of them than when I had started and a greater acceptance of my mortality. I saw their value in being a symbol that could be easily constructed and communicated using pretty much any material.

From watching the creations made by the Creative Sprint community, I have come to strongly believe that every single human being is inherently creative. Not just some people. Every single one of us. We all get the same prompt and we end making different things. Every single day! It’s truly beautiful. One of the best ways to build community is by practicing creativity together.

I’ve learnt to enjoy the journey and bring creative energy to any situation I find myself in. Art can get pretty serious, but art can be enjoyable to make and enjoyable to view. No one owns creativity. Practice it because you can and no one can take that away from you. Try out a new process, see a weird idea crystallize, express a feeling that has been bottled up inside, re-figure a mundane material that you normally wouldn’t give a second thought. Because LIFE can get pretty serious, but LIFE can also be fun!

See more of Michelle's project on Instagram @michelle.genders!

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