Inspiration or Infiltration

I’ve been hunting. Not with a shotgun or bow and arrow. I’ve been hunting with my mouse. Looking for inspiration. But sometimes an inspiration steals the show. Becomes the star instead of supporting actor.

I experienced this a few years ago as I was considering what to make my beloved for Christmas. I wanted to create art to support his new interest in gardening. So, of course, I went Pinteresting and found this wonderful work of art by Freeland Tanner.

Garden Hose sculpture

I was amazed and inspired. But then I couldn’t get it out of my head. All of my sketches were poor imitations bordering on forgery. I didn’t want to copy. I wanted to do original work, but originality was elusive. What followed was weeks of drawings and no satisfaction whatsoever. I was stuck.

I often turn outward for inspiration. I have Pinterest boards full of other artists’ work, a complete screensaver file of other artists’ work and shelves of books that other artists have written. And at a certain point, all of that information can become clutter. Inspiration becomes infiltration. Then, turning inward to reach originality requires a long journey .

Such was the case for me as Christmas neared. I had to stop looking at the hose assemblage and start something new. So I did what I knew how to do: I started gathering stuff from my collection and grouping it together. Then I shifted my thinking from ornamental to functional: a planter box assemblage. And once I broke the hold of that delicious, tenacious original inspiration, here’s what I got:


You can see that it has been gathering its own quirky additions that give it a unique personality…one that has arisen from its functionality and continues to unfold.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in someone else’s ideas? How do you break free?

4 Thoughts

  1. Getting lost in someone else’s style and ideas is so easy that when I’m writing a book I’m less likely to be reading a book. (Well, except for Terry Pratchett. There’s always room for more Discworld.)

  2. Funny you should ask. I’m grappling with that now as I’m putting together a new book. I’ll be writing down my thoughts and come to something I should do more research on, googling of course. Then, after I’ve jotted down new ideas — or corrected the old ones — I sometimes wonder if those are my words or an inspirational phrase I especially liked that someone else came up with. Now I have a rule: jot only the facts down. Or, earmark the phrase indicating it needs to be changed. It doesn’t happen often since I write mostly from my own experiences and thoughts. However, the possibility is there.

    1. Good observation about the words of others. I often find that when I immerse myself in someone else’s writing, my own writing starts to take on their style…a bit like visiting a place where there are accents and I come home speaking in a new way!

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