A flash of inspiration is a moment of fleeting creativity that should be caught and built upon. The best way to do this is to act on it there and then. If this is not possible you should write it down or draw it out, instantly, before the moment goes.
A pocket sketchbook is a great way to keep and build on these fleeting moments of inspiration, as a pocket sketchbook is always at your side.
We do not see or know something when we are looking or learning, until we reach a moment of realisation. At this moment it all becomes clear to us and we perhaps wonder why it was so difficult to understand in the first place!
It is satisfying to draw from observation partly because these moments of realisation can be achieved regularly, if focus is achieved. This is because to draw well from observation you need to be honest about what you actually see, rather than just draw what you think is there.
At its best a sketchbook is a diary of visual ideas that can fit in your pocket and stay with you.
Many sketchbooks used nowadays are rather large. This encourages studio creativity, where ideas are brought to the sketchbook, rather than enabling the sketchbook to record the ideas that we come across in life. This has the effect of making art in response to the studio and second hand resources, rather than the observations and inspirations of life.
How do you capture your moments of inspiration?
Drawing can be a very direct link between the inner imagination of the mind and the reality of the world. Designers use drawing as a way to quickly develop their ideas visually so that they can see what they imagine and communicate their imagination to others.
Drawing is a system of representation and for a drawing to be read the system needs to be understood. This is a cultural matter and it is interesting to note that there are many drawing systems which we have to learn. For example Ancient Egyptian paintings, with its constant use of human side profiles.
Many drawings try to represent a reality, to be equal to the thing depicted. But drawing is always just itself, any reality is an illusion.
For a very young child, the ability to draw using a system is not formed, but the child can still read into their drawing of marks and see meaning that is not always communicated in a readable way to the viewer. The emotional content might be very readable. Children soon find symbols to represent ideas that can be read by others.
Drawing is at once a form of action and a form of representation.
It is possible to draw abstract marks to represent how you feel. Visual marks on a page can be read in the same way as we can read the subtle fleeting expression in a face or the slight change of tone in a voice.
I believe the focus on drawing as a form of representation, a way of seeing and understanding the world, is a vital skill. But drawing also has an important role in the development of emotional and conceptual thinking. This is underused and should be encouraged.
Do we as a society focus too much on teaching and valuing representational drawing above emotional and conceptual drawing?
Don’t criticise what you create at first. You should let it grow. If it was worth making, there might just be something in it! This is why it is very useful to keep some of your notes and drawings in a folder. They might be very useful in the future.
We all like to think we will make a dramatic change, but I think we don’t. Over time we find the best way to be is to be our authentic self. To be the best version of yourself is all that is available, and it is plenty!
Give yourself permission to be creative. Give yourself permission to be an artist. Give yourself a commitment of time and then focus on one thing, the flow of creativity...
Let yourself get into a flow of creativity where your ideas become visual ideas that lead to new beginnings.
To enable the flow of ideas you need to…
Let your drawings develop by themselves; don’t think, question or label what you make at first!
Be observant, as if you know nothing and the world is new!
Listen to everyone, be interested rather than interesting!
Be curious about the world, ask questions rather than look for answers!
Be yourself; you have no choice, all the other people are taken!
Find and solve problems, they are everywhere!
Find and make connections!
Be happy to fail; you cannot grow if you are not willing to fail!
If you follow these simple guidelines you will find that your flow of ideas and creativity will blossom over time.
How can you build your creativity today?
Tom McPherson's blog on art and creativity.