Art, Drawing, education, Influences, marker and colored pencil illustration, motivation, resources, wisdom

Jo’s Journey (A Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Doing Anything Better) – Finding Inspiration

Like all creative people, I experience blocks every now and then.  Mostly, I’ve noticed that the blocks usually come between projects – not during – proof that sometimes the best way to get unblocked is to get off your arse and do whatever it is that you are putting off doing.

Now, I know that this is easier said that done, so I’ve put together a simple checklist for finding motivation, and ultimately, inspiration.

Marker and pen illustration "Checklist" by Joana Miranda

Jo’s Checklist

  • Get moving.  Literally.   Put on your walking shoes, comfortable clothing, and go for a brisk 1/2 hour walk.  Distance from your workplace combined with fresh air is guaranteed to give you a new perspective.
  •  Resolve to improve on an area of your technique.  As a visual artist, I’m always turning to how-to books.  Most recently, I’ve been poring over the exercises in Illustrating Fashion by Eunice Sloane.  Don’t underestimate the value of the how-to videos on Youtube, either.   (A Youtube “How to Dance the Texas Two Step” routine once saved my husband and me from looking like bumbling idiots at a symphony ball.)
  • Make time to play.  My friend Tom sent me a link to this fun Huz Makeover Designer.    Even though the art is more manga-style  than what I’m aiming for with my Josephine character, having fun creating and dressing a virtual character has given me some ideas for my next “Josephine.”
  • Remember to eat the elephant one bite at a time.  Although I sometimes bite off more than I can chew, last night when I sat down to work on an illustration, my only real goal was to create a pencil sketch.  I reached that goal and had fun, too!
  • Finally, do what you love to do.   It has been said…

“Success isn’t the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”


    • Hmmm, maybe it’s a man/woman thing, but the crosswords tend to sap my focus instead of helping. Or, maybe it’s that I’m just not that good at them yet. (Judging by how much I have to cheat – or ask my husband for hints – I guess that WOULD qualify me as a crossword novice.;-)

      Thanks for your comment and for visiting my blog!

  1. That is very helpful, Joana. I did notice recently that it is very helpful to look up examples when I “draw a blank” (haha). My other favorite inspiration is to think of how someone else would do draw or paint or play something and then I can do it! Odd, isn’t it? The result isn’t a copy at all, in fact usually I haven’t seen anything like it. it’s just that I hadn’t chosen my style.

    • Hi Pam,

      I’ve used the “How would Yo Yo Ma or Hilary Hahn play this?” trick when I’m stuck with a technical issue in music. It generally frees me up, too.

      I hope things are going well with you. I just saw that you opened up an Etsy shop (and I “favorited” it.) I didn’t know you were into creating finger puppet theatres. The theatres are adorable! They have a wonderful combination of whimsy along with a folk art feel. Do you make the actual theatres yourself?

      Ciao – Joana

  2. Love Josephine’s tips. She is one very smart chick, not to mention cute!
    I am very focussed on the fun and advantages of playing and so your comment on that subject really struck home. Thanks again.

    • Hi Andrea,

      The “play” tip actually came from a jewelry workshop I did a few years back with Charles Lewton-Brain. He was talking about how to combat burnout and urged us all to make time to play at the (jewelry) bench.

      I think often we get so goal-oriented that making time to play seems like a detraction. I don’t always remember to play, but when I do, I’m always glad I did. As a result, that next goal sometimes just falls into place.

      Bye for now – Joana

    • We’re obviously kindred spirits, then! Thanks for your nice comment.

      Hope you have a lovely week – Joana

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