Inspiration Is For Amateurs

I’m working at being more present on social media with the goal of connecting with other artists and creatives.  I try to browse through posts and Tweets on a daily basis, and add or respond to at least one comment a day.  It’s not a significant contribution, but it’s a start.

Last week one of my Followee’s Tweeted this quote by artist Chuck Close (if it was you, please let me know and I can give you credit!),

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.

It’s very similar to the Picasso quote that heads my daily scheduling sheets (quote courtesy of Michele Théberge of The Mindful Artist),

Inspiration must find you well placed at your work.

Both of the above quotes resonate for me.

A misconception about full time artists is that they must be “having fun”, deliriously enjoying their work.  It may be that way for some, but for me – and I suspect for other full time artists as well – happiness and fulfillment are not constant studio companions.

Being a working artist requires putting in a great deal of grunt work.

Sometimes the grunt work is enjoyable.

Sometimes it is downright tedious.

Occasionally, it can be mentally painful.

Throughout my 20+ years of practice, I’ve had months where I’ve battled with my brain about getting down to work.  Merely entering the studio space was a struggle.   At times my brain was the victor and I would go AWOL on my studio practice.  Which brings to mind another favourite quote, this one by Stephen DeStaebler,

Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.

I fully understand the sentiment of the above quote – I’ve lived it!  But as someone who has committed to being a full time artist, I cannot sit around and wait, either for inspiration or for pain.  I must show up regardless and put in the work.

Even when, as mentioned in the comments of last week’s post, the hours logged don’t appear to have resulted in anything of value.

At least not initially.

The true value of studio work is in its accumulative nature.

Time has proven to me – again and again – that if I put more (and consistent) hours into my practice, I will occasionally be rewarded with results that are beyond my expectations.

[And I have really high expectations 🙂]

These intermittent flashes – these “inspired moments” – are what keep me working through countless uninspired hours in the studio.

Frankly, it’s been months since I’ve felt inspired.  But I’ll keep diligently clocking studio time knowing that when inspiration decides to pop in for a visit I’ll be ready for it.

What’s your experience with inspiration?  Do you passively wait for it or do you actively seek it?

2 Responses to “Inspiration Is For Amateurs”

  1. Jody,
    I have to actively seek it. Or perhaps more accurately, I have to actively make priority time for it. It’s a struggle to not succumb to all the never ending busy work of marketing and social media, and give myself the focus that I know will allow the vision to emerge.

    Yea for showing up anyway!

    • jody says:

      Hi Christine – nice to see you here!
      Focus without distractions is key, isn’t it?
      I second your “yea”. We gotta give ourselves props for showing up with the intention to be inspired, even if it’s a long time coming. I often find myself thinking of that famous quote from Field Of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.”