Finding Inspiration in the Time of Quarantine

As an artist, people often ask me what inspires my work.

Every time I’m asked I can’t help but think to myself, “What a strange question!”

While there are certainly times when a spark of inspiration hits and I have to run to the studio, as a practising, professional artist I would never get anything done if I sat around waiting for inspiration to come. 

Over the years I’ve learned this essential truth about inspiration, summed up beautifully by the words of my late professor Charles Miedzinski, “We have to set up the banks of the river so the water can flow through.” 

Once the banks are in place, the water (inspiration) comes rushing in.

While a trip to the museum or an afternoon curled up with a delicious book can easily jumpstart your creativity, it can also happen without ever stepping foot out of your front door. 

With so many of us spending more time than we normally would at home, with cultural events suspended and limited access to the outside world you may find yourself feeling less than inspired. But fear not! 

What you did when you took yourself to the museum can be applied to any situation you are currently in. 

You see, by going to a museum you created the right conditions for inspiration to find you. You set aside the time, purchased the ticket and placed yourself in a space where inspiration tends to be. 

You can open the same door for it to come in, right now – into your relationships, the next meal you cook or that blog post you’ve been wanting to write. For it to come, inspiration requires two basic things: 

The first is an invitation. A curious mind or an overt request are the quickest ways to get things moving. When you place yourself in front of a painting or sit down at the theatre, you consciously or unconsciously are saying to inspiration, “Please come and find me. I am here, ready and available.” 

You can do the same thing right now. Start by asking an open-ended question: “What would it take for me to feel inspired and ready to get started with this writing?” “What would it take to feel inspired about dinner? Or to start a new painting?” 

After you’ve asked, sit quietly and notice what comes your way. Be curious. You may find yourself drawn to a book on your shelf, opening it up to a random page, and reading the perfect quote. Perhaps you’ll realize that the vase of flowers on the table is profoundly more beautiful than you realized, and is filled with the very colours you’d love to work with. 

The second thing inspiration loves is a place for it to go, lest it keep moving and pass you right on by. I call this the container. This container requires space, time and the appropriate tools to put your newfound inspiration to use. Get out your sketchbook or clear off your writing desk. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Let the kids know that the door is closed for a reason. Then sit down, let your fingers hover over the keyboard, put your pencil on the paper, or grab some ingredients out of the fridge without needing to know exactly what’s going to happen next.  

Inspiration rarely comes loudly knocking on our door. That’s because it’s been sitting behind it all along, just waiting for us to let it in.

Jessica Serran is a Visual Artist and founder of theBECOMING. When not in the studio she’s busy helping other artists make art and make money doing what they love. Born in Ontario, Canada, she holds an MA in Transformative Art from John F Kennedy University in Berkeley, CA and a BFA in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI.