007. What Inspires Me?

1. Being in nature.

2. Exploring other artwork. 

3. Travel. 

One of the questions I’m asked most often is what inspires me? I am a very prolific painter, usually completing 3-8 paintings per week. Multiply that by a year, and you have somewhere around 300-400 paintings per year. Granted, not everything is a large elaborate masterpiece, but still, that is a lot of time and energy spent painting.

Doing something that much can lead to creative burn-out.

As a full time Streamer on Twitch, spending more than half my week broadcasting live painting, and interacting with people for several hours a day completely drains me. When I end a stream, I feel as though I just ran a marathon. I’m not only physically exhausted, but mentally and emotionally as well. I put so much of myself out there when I stream, my energy just pours out like an open floodgate.

I absolutely LOVE streaming, but over the last two years I have become very aware of my limits. I recognize my introverted tendencies and I honor them. I’ve made changes in my life to have a balance which helps me to thrive.

What inspires me the most, is nature. I’ve always been an introvert, preferring quiet observation than conversation or interaction. I have major wanderlust as well, and all of these things lend themselves beautifully to hiking and camping.

Arches National Park, Utah, 2016. LG G4 Panorama.

Moab Landscape, Utah. 2016. Acrylic on canvas. 2ft x 4ft.

Unless I have a prior engagement, I spend my weekends traveling around my city/state/country (depending where I live at the time). This means each weekend I’m signing off for several hours. No social media, no phone. Changing my perspective, experiencing some breathtaking scenery, and finding peace in the quiet.

My second greatest source of inspiration is to observe other artwork and watch/read fantasy/sci fi movies and books. I have an extremely active imagination, and I’m constantly nurturing it with visual stimuli. I spend at least one solid hour per day scrolling through Instagram alone (I follow over 1,000 amazing artists). This is both a comforting ritual (it's how I start and end my day), and a blast of incredible inspiration, ranging from painters to sculptors, dancers, poets, and inventors.

The Lost Temple - Wanderer Series, concept art. 2016. Watercolor on cold press paper.

It’s not silly to get lost in your imagination, to believe in fairytales and magic, or to daydream about living in Middle Earth. Why? Because our imagination is one of the main things that sets our species apart from other beings on the planet. I refuse to be ashamed of my ridiculous obsession for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, because these things nurture my imagination.

Without imagination, humans never would have created civilizations that span the globe. We wouldn’t be traveling the galaxy in space ships.
Someone, somewhere had to imagine it.

You can't express your inner voice if you can't hear it yourself. Therefore it is beneficial to have as much fuel for your mind to imagine your creations. Spend time getting to know yourself. What gets you really excited? What relaxes you? The next time you feel a huge wave of inspiration, stop and look at where you are and what you're doing. What train of thought led to that inspiration? Nurturing your imagination and your creative spirit isn’t just about fantasy and magic, it can be anything from music to a well designed car.

If you’re looking for inspiration, step out your front door. Experiences in life give us the fuel for our stories.

For some immediate results, here are my (current) favorite artists, whose work you can follow on their website or their own social media sites.

James Gurney - Oil Painter. (My favorite artist since I was a child).

Alvaro Castagnet - Watercolorist

Joseph Zbukvic - Watercolorist

Thomas Schaller - Watercolorist

Donato Giancola - Oil Painter

Peter Mohrbacher - Digital Painter

And of course, don't forget about Twitch Creative (hundreds of artists streaming live artwork every day).

Finally, traveling is a huge source of inspiration for me. When you travel to other countries (or even other states), you gain a worldly perspective. You see other cultures thriving, you witness incredible architecture and landscapes that you never imagined existed. You also grow as an individual, and become very resourceful (especially if you're a budget traveller like me). Traveling isn't for everyone, but for me it has enriched my life with amazing experiences. I see that directly reflected in my art and my overall happiness. 

Various travel photos I took in 2016/2017.

Various travel photos I took in 2016/2017.

Travel top: Don't fill your entire itinerary with busy tourist activities. Give yourself time to wander and explore quietly, observing, soaking it in. Get lost. (Don't worry, you always have Google Maps on your phone as a backup). It's an amazing way to get to know yourself and your surroundings. 

In short, get out. Go beyond yourself. Do or see something new.