Weathering the storm: inspiration, doubts, and beauty

14 February 2024 – Vol 2, Issue 2.

Creativity. Where do artists find their creativity, their muse and inspiration?  Well, it’s not something that we find or come up with on our own.

It finds us.

As an artist, I feel that creativity is a bubble in the very back of my mind, existing peacefully, harmlessly, until it pops. The bubble pops into an idea and my mind gets splattered with bits and pieces, bursts of motivation, but also some slashes of doubt.  The doubt is like a voice whispering in your ear, constantly peering over my shoulder. It’s the slight shake in my hand as I reach down to make the first pencil mark. Can I pull all the thoughts from my mind into one cohesive piece? You don’t want to disappoint the beauty you’ve already envisioned in your mind, so naturally, the whispers start leaking through. When you have so many complex ideas wrapped around your head, it’s wildly complicated to make sure you deliver them justice. Choosing to create is essentially a gamble. There’s no certainty I can recreate the images in my mind, but if I push past the whispers and make the puzzle pieces fit, I win the jackpot. And each time I win, that whisper gets smaller and smaller.

‘Internal Artist’ by Gil Dekel with the use of AI. 2023.

‘Internal Artist’ by Gil Dekel with the use of AI. 2023.


New ideas and new art pieces can take me months to pinpoint. Ideas just churn in my head until I can formulate them. Sometimes an idea gets stronger than others, grasping onto other ideas, holding them and weighing them down for a while, then releasing them back into my brain.

Creativity is like a fist that keeps knocking in the back of my mind, always alive, always hungry, and it’s up to me to find the time and the space to be brave enough to open the door. Pondering on ideas is one thing; letting the ideas in is another. After days, weeks or months of fitting ideas together I would settle on something, and then draw or paint it. Once the decision to create is made, the mind runs rampant… Excitement. Fear. Love. Passion. And from there everything that follows is like another reality in which the artist exists as they create their piece. From sketching to drafting, to making the first permanent mark on the canvas, or the first slide of the graphite against the paper – the creative knock takes over until the small idea that started out as a bubble in your head is accomplished.

For me, that’s why I create. To exist in another reality where everything else is suspended. Where my ideas are drawn, sometimes frustratingly erased and tried again. It’s a long long climb to get thoughts and ideas out of my head. Once I start, the creative process is getting what I pictured so vividly in my head, onto the canvas.

The process feels like being isolated in a cabin with the most incredible view. Imagine it, a warm cosy cabin, where you’re sitting at your desk, drawing, and the large window in front of you has a beautiful view of snowy mountains. Bright blue water fills the lake in front of the mountains. You want so badly to go outside and bask in the beauty yourself, but you can’t leave your spot, at your desk, until you’ve recreated the masterpiece that sits outside the window. Then, and only then, when you’ve perfected that image, can you wander outside your cabin and free yourself in the creativity you poured over your desk.

It’s wonderful, it’s beautiful, it’s dangerous, the process of creativity. There are a lot of things that can build up into dark clouds and stop the process from continuing. Intrusive thoughts can freeze me in my tracks, self doubt, frustrations. When the pretty idea I dreamed up in my head for weeks doesn’t sketch out how I’d imagined, or the colours I was envisioning don’t pop out as much as I’d hoped, a weight sinks inside my stomach.  What if I can’t pull this off? This doesn’t look right…

It’s those thoughts that make me pause and start my work over and over again. It can be aggravating and sometimes hard to overcome, but it’s part of the mess that makes the beauty so admirable in the end. After all the erased lines, the starting over, the furrowed brow and narrowed eyes I step back to examine my drawing. I examine it way longer than I should, but it turns out to be worth it. When I do truly step back, I’m not examining my drawing anymore, rather I’m admiring it. Stepping back and seeing the image that is in my head, and how it was brought to life in front of me. I can now exhale the breath I’ve been holding since the start, and finally liberate myself from any and all roadblocking thoughts. This is what drives me to be creative in my fine arts work. That feeling at the end. But also, the feeling in the middle, in the heat of everything. And the feeling right at the very beginning, when you’re about to embark on an unpredictable but lovely journey.

It’s letting those small thoughts blossom and take shape that drives my creativity. And my inspiration – well my inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. The shapes in the sky that I think would make cool brushstrokes, the harsh lighting on a sunny day where the shadows create their own work of art and I want to recreate it. But mostly, my inspiration comes from inside. Mental.

Drawing and painting are like a second language to me; a language that only I can understand. When things are built up inside, I end up making something that releases my feelings and gives me the space to recognise my emotions, talk to them through the drawing, and give them the life they need so I can breathe easier.

That constant knocking in the back of my mind is picking up on all the things in my life. All the events, all the emotions which I string together, keeping them hidden away in a box for later. Inspiration for my next project. An outlet for my next drawing…

The artistic process is a monster that I’m always at war with. Sometimes we wave our white flags and sometimes we don’t. It is a mental process where I pour my soul into a painting or a drawing, and I wouldn’t expect that to be easy by any means. It’s guiding the broken parts of my mind from outside my head and stitching them back together on paper with my pencil. And that is probably the hardest part for me. Knowing you’re creating something so vulnerable is like tearing your heart out and holding it in your palm while you try to draw it with your other hand. It’s airing out something inside your head and sometimes those things are unsteady, but drawing it is the only way I can make sense of it. Dipping my paintbrush in paint and seeing where the line I paint takes me, or drawing with no real sense of how I want the finished piece to look like is what makes creating so exciting to me. I’m unfolding something, opening it and daring to recreate it and eventually stare it right in the eyes. It’s a therapy of sorts, and that’s why I create. And even though my creative process challenges me, it gives me tranquillity like nothing else on this earth.

So creativity is a mindset. It’s a lifestyle. It’s messy. But it’s beautiful, rewarding, and graceful. It’s about recognising that all my thoughts are battling for a spot to be created and it’s up to me to pick and choose which idea I want to nurture into something amazing. It holds sparks of ideas, planning, researching, more planning, sketching, drafting, starting and continuing to the end, until you can step back and know in your bones, “I’m finished.”

My creative process is weathering the storm. But once the clouds are clear, it sure is beautiful.


© Journal of Creativity and Inspiration.
Images copyright as specified.

About the author

Trinity Johnson is a writer and visual artist based in the USA.