Estella from Star of the East checks in her drawers full of materials for guaranteed results to any creative blocks. She knows that by manipulating and matching the materials, the end result will often be surprising and completely different, "but it did trigger me to create something." Her highly original jewelry is proof.
Laura from Blue Terracotta has preferred rituals when she begins work on her wonderful mosaics and sculptures; "For me, ideas flow when I do what I enjoy, like reading or watching birds from my window, orvisiting a museum. It's not about copying, just that these activities spark creative ideas." She mentions a NY Times article on the endangered northern spotted owl.
"The journalist described it as looking like it was made from Harris tweed. I love making fabric birds, so I thought about starting with an interesting fabric, one that looked like an owl's feathers. I looked for vintage Harris tweed, and some other wools and found a fun vintage plum colored herringbone. Whoever heard of a plum herringbone owl? Maybe no one, but my owls will be warm this winter."
Laura also reads the blog Morbid Anatomy that served as inspiration for her lively Memento Mori piece.
Annette from Dragon House of Yuen collects images for her many scrapbooks and tiny plastic animals as inspiration for her marvelous soft sculptures. She abstracts each animal's scale to create their stuffed counterparts.
She says, "I would spend many hours on the floor with my scraps all around me. They'd be sorted into colors and I would assemble images to compliment each other, and on other pages I would tell a story..."
Annette uses anything that's printed; advertising, postcards, tea bag packets, perfume sample spray sheets...
My own way to get beyond a block is to start by rummaging through my library of art books to not only discover other artists' processes, but to also be inundated by beauty and/or ideas. I'm inspired by reading artists' biographies and the struggles and successes that they experience.
I also watch videos on artists, in which they discuss their own approaches and how they work. One of the best series was created by a former NY gallery owner, Bill Maynes. I recently met an artist, James Lourie, by posting on another art critic's blog. He has a wealth of artist videos stored on his own site. These are a great jumping off point to stimulate a stagnated creative impulse.
One artist in the videos, Grace Hartigan, said that painting creates ideas that then keeps the ideas flowing. I like that.
And I keep all my materials close by and ready - the easel stays set up with dropcloth in place, my box of paints open.
Art really is like everything else; practice makes better. But finding inspiration in everyday things can also create a life long discipline that encourages continual creativity.