Creative Inspiration

I thought you might enjoy sharing the talk I gave yesterday on Creative Inspiration. Here’s the outline of the talk for you – maybe there is something in there that might inspire you too – in this crazy Christmas season, it can be great to find a quiet corner and ‘hide’ for half an hour or so and treat yourself to some ‘creative time’

Alyson Sheldrake

So – here goes – here’s what I talked about:

  • What is creativity and what inspires me?
  •  Being creative and how to nurture creativity
  • Writer’s block – how to be inspired when your brain is blank!
  • What inspires you? The creative challenge

Art by Alyson Sheldrake

What is creativity and what inspires me?

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

This is one of my favourite quotes! As a child, I was always making things or drawing something – one of my earliest memories is of a kit my mom brought home where you made finger puppets out of felt and cardboard of the Wombles – that’s ageing me nicely isn’t it!

And then adult life kicks in – and work – for me a police career followed by senior posts in education – long hours and late nights left little time to be creative.

But the creative bug still nibbles away inside you!

I honestly believe that we are all designed to be creative – that might be drawing or painting for some people, or writing, photography, sewing, knitting, gardening , problem solving, nurturing a family and children, running a home, having a busy job.

So often, much of what we do in life is ‘reactive’ – we respond to events, people, diary appointments and the ‘stuff’ of life.

But creativity is different – it’s the opposite – it’s the chance to ‘create’ – its proactive – we ‘own’ something, we ‘make’ something – to be able to show someone else something and proudly say ‘I made this!’

It’s not about success or money or fame, it’s simply about creating.

Senhora da Rocha by Alyson Sheldrake

Being creative and how to nurture creativity

So – how can we be creative – and how do we nurture that?

I thought it would be useful to share some ideas and tips with you about how we can inspire and nurture our creative side – whatever it is that you create!

And these tips might be useful for some of you too if you feel that you have writer’s block – a set of ideas on how to be inspired when your brain is blank!

  • One of my favourite things to do is keep an ‘ideas box’ or scrapbook – mine is online on my computer but I also tear out ideas from magazines and keep notes and cards too. That knitting pattern you admire, the colours in a photograph, an inspiring verse or quote. Keep them all bundled up somewhere special, and when you need some inspiration, curl up with a cup of tea and have a good rummage through the box – ideas will follow!
  • Carry a camera wherever you go and take lots of pictures. Try photographing the everyday and the ordinary – or the small details that we often miss – try zooming in on shapes or abstract things – or decide to only shoot blue objects, or red ones, or old rusty things – the choice is yours!

Dave Sheldrake Photographer

  • Look at other people’s work – as an artist I have my favourite artists that I admire and adore – I have copied their work before – merely as an exercise in practising and learning before anyone tells me off for copyright infringement! Looking carefully at someone else’s work – asking questions of how they drew something out, what colours and techniques they used – or perhaps a garden that you admire – how did they plant things, why did they put those two plants and colours together, how did they get those shapes?
  • Listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie – can all be inspiring to us. Sometimes we need to switch off the whirring noise of life and focus in on one thing – and allow our minds to explore and enjoy. Try a new style or genre of book or movie for new ideas!
  • Get outdoors, and go for a walk along a trail or beach, or for a boat ride Nature is always inspiring. There is so much natural beauty that most of us miss out on every day. Legend has it that Buddha gave one of his last sermons without using a word. His disciples were gathered in nature and Buddha stood in the middle of the group holding a single flower, roots and all. He stood there in silence just looking at the flower. He then walked around the group and showed  the flower to each student. Most of them had no idea what he was doing. Buddha is reported to have later said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change” – so take time to stop and enjoy the smallest pleasures!
  • Always have a sketch book or notebook and pen with you – that overheard conversation in a cafe might be just the thing you need to write your next poem – or add a plot to your novel (you know the one you have always promised yourself you will write!)

fountain pen

  •  Listen to your dreams and daydream – you have my permission to curl up on the sofa and do absolutely nothing! Dreams have inspired many artists throughout the years.


  • Consider doing a collaborative project or artwork with other artists. Every artist is unique, and has their own unique perspective and ways of looking at things. You may learn to see things differently, and might feel inspired to create artworks that would not have come to mind otherwise. Why not sew a patchwork quilt for charity with other local friends – in America tea and sew parties are very popular and there are knitting shops where you can go in and knit together with others. Being creative can sometimes be quite lonely – linking up with others can be great fun
  • You could take it a step farther and enrol on a course – suddenly having 2 – 4pm every Tuesday down in your diary for your class makes it more real – and more important – and you are less likely to not bother to turn up if you have paid for it!


  • Create for the sake of creating. Many times we get bogged down with trying to think of new themes or views to paint, or ‘creating’ a certain way. Try to paint, write or draw simply because you enjoy it, not because you want to create a finished work of art. Get your paints out or your pen out – and just have fun! Remember that childlike delight you had in sploshing a paintbrush around – let the child in you have some fun!

Alyson Sheldrake PhotographerA3 Art


  • Having your own space set aside is really important too – can you create a little haven somewhere that is yours? Even if it is the kitchen table and you have to clear it at teatime for the family – whilst it is your creative space make it special – put up inspiring pictures or quotes, have your favourite bag or box that you keep everything in – make it special and treasure it.

I think there’s one more really important thing to share here – don’t wait around for inspiration – I’ve found out that it rarely turns up!

There’s a great quote by Chuck Close

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

You have to be brave and just go for it!

There’s a new book doing the rounds by Steven Pressfield called ‘Turning Pro’ and it is quite inspirational. If you ask lots of people what they do – they will say to you ‘oh I just dabble … I’m not really a writer … I just do it for fun … I’m not really very good…. – and a myriad of other similar comments!

Turning Pro – is scary – suddenly when someone asks you what you do – you have to reply ‘I’m an artist’ – it’s usually accompanied by a big gulp and a ‘hope they don’t laugh at me’ thought!

This year was the first time my husband and I had ever exhibited anything – to anyone! We set up here at the hotel – tried to make it all look professional and inviting – and then sat back looking at each other thinking ‘what if no-one comes?’. Then lots of people came in and started looking round and we thought ‘what if no-one likes anything?’

Then we sold something – and then something else – and we were off! I have to tell you when no-one was looking we whooped and cheered and danced a little jig when we sold our first items – and then I sold a painting and it was a really weird feeling – that was ‘my baby’ … and I wanted to know it was going to a good home!!

A3 Art Christmas Sale

Just do it – then share it!

And don’t be frightened to make mistakes along the way:


Thanks to Creative Something .net for this image – click for the link

 So – What inspires you?

I leave with you a creative challenge

Creativity isn’t limited to artists, musicians and actors.

I believe that creativity is an innate human quality. You are full of creative possibilities.  If I asked for a show of hands of how many people have always wanted to write a book … would you put your hand up?

Or if I asked you ‘Are you creative?’ what would you say? How many of you delight in:

Knitting or sewing

Icing a birthday cake for someone

Gardening and growing your own veg

Doodling or sketching

Writing poetry

Writing a blog

Homemade crackers or Christmas cards

Playing the piano

Taking photographs

Then you are creative!

'Daisy White' by Alyson Sheldrake

Have I inspired you today?! It would be lovely to find out what you might create over the festive season ahead!

If you have enjoyed this you might also enjoy reading about Our First Exhibition

And you can find out more about our art here – click the logo!

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12 thoughts on “Creative Inspiration

  1. Three Well Beings

    What wonderful inspiration you leave me with! I love your talk…and wish I could have heard it. But thank you for transcribing it! I think I need to remember that with the interests I hold and nurture, I am indeed a creative. I need to let go and savor that feeling a bit more often! :-)


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