‘Ideas for Blog Topics’, read the list title. I opened it to find some inspiration to share. ‘Where my ideas come from’, was the first suggestion. The train of thought then went as follows:
“Where do my ideas come from? Do I have ideas?? Do I start a painting with an idea? Or do I just begin and paint until an idea occurs? Is there ever an idea? Is it all just meaningless design?”
Enough of this, if I had no ideas, there would be no creativity taking place at all! What is an idea anyway? My trusty dictionary tells me it’s ‘a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action‘ or it’s ‘the aim or purpose of an action’.
So what suggests to me that it’s time to put paint on surface?
Sometimes it’s just going into my studio – seeing a work in progress on the easel, looking ugly and/or simply unresolved – my painting fingers begin to twitch.
But the prompting can come before that, an urge to simply play with paint, to leave the housework and distil my boredom and frustration into coloured marks.
However, the inspiration to paint is not necessarily an inspiration as to what to paint. It isn’t an ‘idea’, it’s just an itch that needs scratching.
An idea, it seems to me, is more cerebral than that, a spark in the brain that ignites a desire to share, to help others feel the same excitement I’m feeling.
I think it works like this:
Something I see might make me think, “I could incorporate that into a painting”, perhaps a sky or the overlapping patterns of leaves or the natural chiaroscuro of the landscape before a storm. By the time I get to the easel, that inspiration is deeply buried in my memory, beyond conscious application.
This, of course, is where my ideas come from, the unconscious application of half-forgotten observations. Like Pierre Bonnard, who reputedly said that he couldn’t paint en plein air because nature was too overwhelming, my paintings must be memories, my ideas have to have been pre-digested before they can emerge. How that happens is another story completely!