Inspiration. Where does it come from?

Creative inspiration.

Where does it come from and where does it go to? Like all eternal questions the answers vary from person to person and the reasons are complex.

There are several ‘givens’ for me. My feelings have to kick in. I have to feel an inkling of an inner joy or excitement about looking at the object that I want to paint. I like to be well-rested so that I can focus on the task at hand. I feel especially inspired by nature, by colour, by visual things around me. Sometimes I am amazed by the sight of a flower grouping or a landscape or a cloud formation or even a colour and I want to stop everything and pull out the paints. I like to play music that accompanies my mood and my approach to the canvas.
Cloud in Bear River East
Sometimes a life event will trigger the painting. My painting Exuberance that sold recently at the Flight of Fancy in Bear River may look like a flower painting, but it was really a celebration of a breakthrough in my painting style.


After painting exclusively with watercolours for years, I had discovered fluid acrylics and found them to be a logical extension of wet-in-wet watercolours. Fluid acrylics have both the translucency and brilliance of watercolours with the advantage of the flexibility of acrylic. I was so excited about this and I think that energy came through in the painting.

Recently I’ve been getting my inspiration from beautiful Bear River Blooms on Sissaboo Road. This flower growing farm is worked by the caring hands of Cheryl Stone. Her bouquets are loaded with blooms, they are fresh, cheerful, colourful and the ones I’ve been getting from her have a country-cottage feel to them. How could I not be inspired

I drew inspiration from a bouquet to develop my current painting.

For me, the painting process starts out as an exercise in getting to know the subject matter. I focus on the object so intensely that I don’t want to talk to anyone or to be interrupted. (My wonderful studio-mate and life-mate Larry is very respectful of this).

Next, I choose the colours that I will use. My objective is to narrow it down to 3 to 6 colours. It’s a tough discipline, but it means there will be more harmony in the painting.

I changed the colours of the blooms as I was in an “orange” mood. 

The flowers emerge out of darkness and for me, this painting is about the joy I feel in finally being set up in a fabulous studio and having the chance to play with colour.
Into the Light  (sold)

It is interesting to me how much more I get out of the flowers knowing they were lovingly grown by someone I know. If you get a chance to go to the Annapolis Farmer’s Market, stop by Cheryl’s booth and buy some old-fashioned blooms that last forever.

Some of the music I listened to was Jane Ira Blooms’ Chasing Pollack. It’s quite jazzy and loose. You can sample it here.

I also listened to the Peat Bog Fairies and you can hear them in the background of this little video of me painting. They live on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, an extremely inspiring place if there ever was one!

The pasty looking gunk on the canvas is matt medium. It allows me to move the paint by scratching it and scraping it. It also dries clear. You can also see which colours I used for this piece.

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7 thoughts on “Inspiration. Where does it come from?

  1. Ahhhh, that pregnant pause, where the artist stands and stares, like a diver on the diving board, contemplating the shining surface below. And then, the plunge and brush starts to dance.Into the Light is GORGEOUS: the lucky buyer will benefit from your orange mood for years to come.Flora, my hands are itching to try that scratcher/scraper you are using. Can you tell me where to get it, or is it a Doehler original?

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  2. Thank you Carol! I couldn't have said it better!That scraper is a rubber-tipped paint brush handle specifically sold for making designs into oil or acrylic. They come in different sizes and I just got a wider one. The rubber is very hard, like a squeegee. I've also used paintbrush ends and anything that will give me a mark, but somehow the rubber tipped scraper works best.

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  3. You know, I have some of those and they haven't worked as well for me as my knitting needles and brush handle tips! I will have to give them another go!

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  4. Carol, the total trick is to first smother the canvas with matt medium and then add paint. That way the rubber tips just glide on the mixture and the textures are wonderful!

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  5. Tried the slick layer, thanks to your other video, and it is the greatest thing since ready-made paints! Thanks for sharing so beautifully!

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  6. Years ago, when I made art quilts, I said to my daughter Jenny, "I never know what to answer when people ask me where I get my ideas!" She said, "That's easy: the Idea Fairy brings them." As good an answer as any, for we don't really know how they get into us, only that they come – and the more we use them, the more we get.

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