Broccoli Tree, © 2010 Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor on watercolor Moleskine
I bought some broccoli at the market the other day and decided I had to paint it. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve done any veggies. When my nephews were young kids, they used to call broccoli “trees”. It does make a nice stand-in for a tree.
All of this leads me to the question, what do I do when I’m not feeling very creative or inspired. I thought about this when I was reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit again. I was reading the chapter on Ruts and Grooves. To me, being in a rut is often the same thing as lacking inspiration. She makes the point that what you really need when you are in a rut is a new idea. She gives an example from her lectures where she goes backstage and gets a found object, a stool for example, and gives the audience two minutes to come up with 60 uses for it. The last ideas are often the most imaginative.
I do a similar thing when I’m feeling uninspired. I’ll try a technique or a media that I don’t normally use. I’ll look at the work of other artists such as fiber artists, illustrators, collage artists, sculptors, and photographers. What I’m really looking for is a new idea. I’ll rummage around in the refrigerator or my desk or my yard for something to sketch or paint. Then I’m off on another groove.