Sunday, October 23, 2011

Inspiration as Problem Solving

by Gary Moos
I was asked to write about inspiration, more specifically what inspires me in my artwork. I realized that many things inspire me. Sometimes it’s another’s remark or my findings when I research. Sometimes it is the awe and beauty of nature, or my interest in a work of art. And sometimes it is just putting pen to paper or eye to camera, that helps me let go and open I up to whatever creativity is waiting to be born.

So what exactly is inspiration? One definition according to is: “an…animating action or influence.” In other words, something that moves us to action.

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to do with the exception of one aspect of your intended work. In one such case, I had to figure out how to find an R for the word READ. Sometimes inspiration is just problem solving.

Each letter represents one aspect of books or reading books. The R is a magnifying glass on a book, the E is books stacked, the A is a leaning book, and the D is a coffee mug (I like to sip coffee while reading).

I conducted an informal poll, asking my friends, “Where do you look for inspiration, and where do you find it?” Almost everyone gave more than one answer, usually covering at least two of three loose categories. Those are as follows;

1) Inspiration drawn from the sensual and intellectual worlds of nature and fashion, music, and books.

2) Inspiration drawn from the emotional world of pain and sorrow, or joy and awe,

3) Inspiration drawn from freeing one’s mind through meditation, libations or just going with the flow.

Here is a rough breakdown of the percentage of respondents citing these different sources of inspiration.

Nature: 40%
Other artists’ work: 35%
Just start (and see where it leads you): 30%
Other people: 30%
Life: 30%
Beer and wine: 20%
Anything that touches you deeply: 20%
Meditation: 5%

I know that, for me, the most important aspect of inspiration it not where I look for it, but where I find it. While I may visit nature, or wander through a museum, or listen to The Grateful Dead or reflect on the life of Anne Frank or Helen Keller, these things rarely prompt that “ah, ha” moment when inspiration splits the air and flashes before my eyes. I view these practices as research, fodder for the gristmill of my mind. I do my best work when all of the looking is behind me, and the violins have been quieted, and the colors of the countryside are just a memory. In the still of the night when my mind stops racing, that is when all of the wonder that I’ve taken in takes on a life of its own, and forms order out of chaos.

It is the wake of experience that inspires me.

What inspires you?

“READ” is an original 9 X 13 photograph, by Gary Moos, printed on premium glossy photo paper using premium UV resistant, dye based inks.

Thanks to artist, photographer, writer and Safety Harbor resident, Gary Moos for being a guest blogger! If you'd like to be a guest blogger, e-mail Laura at

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