From Fact Finding to Quick Start

Fact Finder, an illustration by Peony and Parakeet. Tips on how to stop browsing and start creating!

She searched ideas by watching what others had made. Then she realized that she had spent hours trying to find the inspiration. And it was already too late to start making anything by her own. Besides, she was feeling overwhelmed.

Does this sound familiar to you? You might get inspired of this or that, but feel powerless to start making your own. It can be only that you are tired after a long day. Then the best you can do is to go to sleep. But if repeatedly find yourself having difficulties to begin, it might be that you are using the wrong method when searching for inspiration.

Use your imagination when browsing other people’s work.

When you use your imagination, you will get your own, not other people’s ideas. This requires that you do not take anything you see as a fact. Instead, you should focus on the feelings and associations which they raise.

Coming from the Library, a drawing by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet as a teenager

Here’s a crayon drawing which I made as a teenager. It is about a girl coming from the library. The weather is predicting the end of summer.

But actually, you don’t need to know anything like that. The fact that the girl is standing in the middle of the picture should be irrelevant to you too. The purple dress is interesting only if you react to the color. Maybe you are touched by the combination of blue purple and bright yellow? Or maybe you get cold vibes when watching the image? Like when you were sitting on the floor of your new unfurnished home thinking of how to renovate it. Which reminds you of new beginnings and how much hope they hold. A little bit like puppies and young children …

Now you ask: would that mean that I should draw a puppy dog? Or just grab the idea of softness? You could if you feel inspired enough but I would advise you to have a bit larger mix of things. So let’s pick another image.

Four girls, a watercolor painting by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet in 1988

Here’s another work from decades ago. I used watercolors to replicate a black and white photograph of my grandmother and her three friends. Here you might think how stiff and serious people used to be in photographs. Those forced gestures are a complete opposite for the puppies. How funny the similar photo of four puppies would be!

Now you might get inspired by expressing the two opposites: stiff and free-form, hard and soft. Hard can still be soft inside, like the hearts of the four young girls.

Make a Quick Start using the ideas as a starting point.

When I began working from this standpoint, I knew only this: I would begin with coloring four soft areas and at some point add both organic and angular lines to express the opposites. Then I turned the music on and went with the flow.

The Sun Always Rises in the Morning, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet. From fact finding to quick start!

In the end, I wrote where my thoughts had led me to: “The sun always rises in the morning”. I had illustrated the change of day and night and expressed how every morning is a new beginning. Now, there’s hardly any resemblance to the images I started with. Still, they gave me a jumpstart on creating.

When browsing, focus on your inner thoughts.

If you get stuck with having no ideas and being overwhelmed by other people’s work, you think too much about facts and give too little value to your inner thoughts. You will browse endlessly because facts never stop if your own thoughts will never get noticed.  Instead, look at few images or read few sentences and think: What is here that comes to my mind? What basic combination could I create from these just to get started?

If you look for the perfect inspiration starter, you may never find it. In fact, there’s no such thing. But if you value your own thoughts, creating art will generate happiness regardless of the source of inspiration. Your art journal or any end result will become more and more perfect because you are perfect for yourself.

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