Inspiration Pt. II

February 20, 2019

Here we are, the second act. Okay, not to sound dramatic, but this is a topic that probably requires forty to a thousand parts, however we do have to keep in mind also that what we are inspired by depends on the individual. And no, that is not my cop-out from having to write a long blog post about inspirations, that's just the truth. However, in this particular post, I wanted to shift the focus on specific things that inspire the themes of the projects that I work on. Why do I chose the symbols or color schemes that I do, what thoughts are going through my mind (if at all) during the picking and choosing process, and so on. I do not want to make this post about me, but it is my hope that by sharing the way I look out for specific themes that inspire my projects, that others will also find ways to inspire theirs or relate to it in some small or large way. 

As these blog posts go on, you'll see how much I actually hate talking about myself.

So, my most recent project that is nearing its completion is a 14 X 17 white paper mandala that I named "Mardi Gras". This inspiration behind this one is boring, to say the least. It is February, there are Fleur de Lis and King Cakes for sale everywhere in St. Louis -- I've got my Joe Gambino's one-filling King Cake on the way as we speak -- and the festival feel is in the air. What inspired my mandala theme? The ambiance of the month. The purple, green, and yellow aesthetic. The feeling of accomplishment from not messing up my second attempt at a Fleur de Lis (they're harder to draw than you think, okay?!), and the fact that I've been tossing around the idea of doing a Mardi Gras themed mandala and kept stepping around it. Why? No clue. 

But that's just one way I go about theme-ing my mandalas. Upon completing Mardi Gras, I am going to hop back on another 14 X 17 white paper mandala called "Blue Crush", named because the theme is mostly blue. Why? Because from childhood, blue has always been my favorite color and, at the moment, purple is my favorite color, so within the varied shades of blue and accents of gold, I've also thrown in purple. The inspiration behind this had nothing to do with any festivals or ambiance, just simply because those are my two favorite colors.

The mandala I have planned after that is named "The Second Star to the Right", after the line from Peter Pan "The second start to the right and straight on 'til morning!". I always remembered being inspired by that idea of a distant star, and the journey of flight to arrive at a grand, new adventure. I even took from some of the characters from Neverland to inspire my color scheme, such as Tiger Lilly, Tinker Bell, and the Mermaids (coincidentally, I am also planning a Tiger Lilly Mandala because it's one of my favorite flowers). 

Those are just three examples that I can think of to show how important it is for us to remember that inspiration is not a straight line. You can literally take it from anywhere, and the beautiful thing about it is that it is all open our individual interpretations. What inspires the theme of my mandala may not always be consistent. Will I draw inspirations from holidays two times in a row or am I going to leap from around the map forever? Will you choose your themes at random or will you consistently theme your mandalas based on something similar? Whatever you do or however you go about drawing your inspirations, you're doing it right! 

Before you start a piece, or when you're planning it out, and you're stuck with where to go with it, just think of things that make you happy. It can be small, like your favorite color, or large, like the colorful scales of koi fish. Either way, try to find something that brings you joy (Hi, Marie Kondo!), and go from there. Maybe you have no idea what brings you joy, or sometimes you don't even require inspiration to know exactly where you're going. Like I said, it all depends on the individual, but there are still tools one can look to when trying to figure out just what you want to do. 

I submit to you the Internet. No, I don't mean go plagiarize another artist's hard work (plagiarism is never okay), but sometimes someone else's styles or methods might inspire you to put your own spin on it. Sometimes the color schemes they choose might tickle your fancy. Maybe you'll do what I do and stalk Pinterest for an obscene amount of hours to find patterns, symbols, color palettes, etc., that will be fitting for a mandala theme. Inspiration is out there, it does not always have to be internal. Maybe one day you'll spot a bouquet while grocery shopping or admire the color of someone's shirt or car. Maybe you'll see a symbol you think will be an excellent center peace for your mandala, or remember a symbol that means something to you.

If you are someone that needs a certain level of motivation to be inspired, trust me it is out there! And it's not a matter of knowing where to look, it's not a perfect science. It hits you naturally, as you are going about your day. For example, I've already thought of three different mandala themes I can do while typing this blog post. However, there are some days when all I have is a blank canvas with little to no idea what the hell I'm going to put on it. One thing that I will never get behind is someone breaking art and what inspires it down to a science, to a step by step guide on how to do it right. There is no right or wrong way to gain the inspiration you need for your art (unless, if course, you break the law, in which case it is 100% the wrong way to go about it). Never trust that elitist rhetoric, we are all different and we all go about life and art different. 

That being said, if you need something to inspire you, I hope all of what I've mentioned here helps you. If you'd like, I will put together a pt. III to this and discuss a specific topic of inspiration in more detail. Like I said, this is such a broad topic that can span a thousand blog posts, and I am more than willing to attempt touching on some of them. 

Thank you for stopping by, I really hope this was helpful! 

xo - MP