Where Does Inspiration Come From?

where does inspiration come from

So many people ask me 'Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

The answer is not always the same.

Today inspiration came from a blank sheet of paper!

Where Does Inspiration Come From
handmade watercolor paper with 4 deckle edges ~ so Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

Not just any sheet of paper!

25 sheets of handmade watercolor paper with 4 deckle edges, just arrived in my latest art supply shipment this weekend. I was anxious to open the box and see how they feel.

Feel is very important! Most of my paintings are inspired by how I feel.

While most people expect that it is more about something I see ~ actually, I am most inspired by how I feel.

Where Does Inspiration Come From
Handmade mold made watercolor papers ~ so Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

I ordered 25 sheets of this special mold made watercolor paper because I am intrigued by the way the pigments look and feel, as they flow in and around the lovely texture of this sheet.

Unlike machine rolled papers, this paper is hand poured into molds. A wood frame with a mesh screen keeps the rag fibers in, while letting the water run off. The resulting sheet is soft, and has subtle textures of the screen mesh and fibers.

When high quality pigments flow into these crack and crevices, the painting takes on a beautiful layered iridescence. The thought of this is inspiration in itself!

I can hardly wait to wet the brush and see how it looks!

So Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

Where Does Inspiration Come From
detail brush strokes of Cadmium, Orchid, Lavender, Meadow Green.

It's not easy to photograph iridescence! But I will try.

This is photographed still wet, so you can see a bit of the thickness of the puddling of the deep Cadmium Orange. You can also see the texture of the rag fibers and the screen mold.

Looking at it in person, I can see far more texture than the camera.


I woke up agitated this morning. Something happened over the weekend that upset me. So I woke itching to get in the studio and paint. Painting is my way of working it out and making the world right again.

So I got up looking for coffee and a paint brush.

So Where Does Inspiration Come From?


The first answer is I'm trying to work something out. I'm bugged about something and I don't know how to fix it. So I back off the issue at hand, and pick up a paint brush instead.


The second answer is a stack of beautiful blank papers that were waiting for me in the studio!

~ so Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

where does inspiration come from
oil painting in process, Pond Within Series ~ ~ so Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

So what to paint? I already HAVE the inspiration. Agitation, unsolved issue, and blank paper.

Now what to paint?

Well the answer is also right in front of my nose! A large abstract landscape on the easel is waiting for me to return to it. But what to do next? I don't know yet.

Perhaps the watercolor paper experiment will open up some ideas?

Where Does Inspiration Come From
detail watercolor on handmade paper


An Unexpected Turn

The oil painting had taken an unexpected turn last week. So rather than force it to my idea of what it should look like, I went with it. Now I am wondering where to go next?

I could say the same for that other issue!

So I mixed up some of the same pigments and experimented with a loose composition. Letting it dry a bit, I came back with another layer of colors. This time the iridescence and depth took on dimensional nuances I hadn't expected.

~ so Where Does Inspiration Come From?'

I must say I am surprised at how the watercolor turned out! The new handmade paper gives the paint depth and resonance. I am surprised by the freedom I feel in painting it.

I love this opportunity to step away from more literal interpretation of the landscape  ~ to play with pure color ~ in a more dream like way.  I like the bands of landscape, layers of the dream.

It reminds me of another oil painting that is awaiting my return. It has a rigid horizon line. And I've been mulling the thought of ditching it lately. I've been seeing a rolling ocean wave ~ abstract ~ independent of the literal way it SHOULD fit in the picture frame.

Looks like it's time to try it!

The Pond Within III, watercolor

So Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Several ingredients contribute to The Perfect Storm.

  1. A Niggling Feeling (in this case stress)
  2. An opening (in this case blank paper)
  3. Visual Stimulus (in this case another painting)

In the process of painting the watercolor, I now have an idea of where to take the oil painting. And also an idea of what to do to address the issue that was bugging me!

I am really enjoying this series, The Pond Within. The idea that an internal landscape of colors, can be moved around, rearranged like plants in a garden ~ feels liberating!

See this and other watercolors in my Italian Watercolors Exhibition.

Sorrento Sunday, watercolor

Italian Watercolors Exhibition

Painting in opaque mediums for forty years, it was only five years ago that I picked up watercolors. Transparent by nature, this challenged me to rethink my way of seeing the world.

Over the last five years, I've painted in watercolor when I travel. So the exhibition is filled with small paintings from Italy, and a few from home. Landscapes, street scenes, gardens from Sorrento, Positano, Tuscany, Siena, Cortona, Lago Maggiore, Venice, Florence and more.

I hope you'll enjoy them!

Joy's Garden

Joy's Garden

Joy's Garden