My illustrators group (OC Illustrators and SCBWI), in 2005, challenged the members to paint an illustration based on a fairy tale. I chose the Norwegian story, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and painted the girl on the bear in acrylic paints.
In 2011, after publication of my first story in the newspaper, I thought I would write another story using my illustration as inspiration. My effort resulted in the story, Zoo Bear. I’ve submitted the story and art.
This November I visited a craft fair at a local park. The fabric arts using wool, hand spinning and weaving excited my senses and I wanted to know more about the process of making felted wool. After some internet research I discovered a process of dry felting called “needle felting”. Could I make a sculpture of my bear and girl? Using supplies on hand, I molded the shape of the bear out of pipe cleaners and wrapped them with a layer of poly fluff stuffing. Punching with a barbed needle, the stuffing compressed and I slowly added more and more to make a bear shape. My first try was not successful as a bear but now makes a great pin cushion. My second bear is a better attempt. The girl and bear still need work but you get the idea.
Obviously, ideas are everywhere but what does it take to let an idea take hold and blossom? In this instance, my first inspiration came from a fairy tale BUT there was also a goal. The WHY provided motivation. The first “Why” was to create an illustration as a group project. Each person came up with something different. With my Zoo Bear story, the WHY was fueled by prior success, but, even more important, I wanted to see if I could write another story, internal motivation. The WHY for the sculptures made of needle-punched wool also came from a desire to try something new. I liked the wool texture, I wanted to experiment with it, and I had just finished my story so the girl riding a bear was fresh in my mind.
Where to ideas come from? Some trigger, a source of inspiration, and the creative process grows, morphs, translates, jumps and lands. I never know exactly where it will land until it’s landed. Here’s an earlier blog link: Where do Stories Come From?
In the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she encourages taking weekly “dates” with yourself to places that feed your imagination. Museums, zoos, parks, galleries, libraries, books, show openings, classes: the list goes on and on. Ideas grow best if the ground is fertile. As the farmer of my creative life, I work to keep the ground fertile.