What Is “Inspiration”?

Prayer Markings (detail) by Mark Turner, 2016
“Prayer Markings” (detail) by Mark Turner, Spring 2016. When prayer went beyond words one morning.

This is the third in a series about Your Table of Creation, discussing aspects of the three stages of creating. You can start the series HERE, or review the previous post HERE.

This “inspiration stage” is vital to authentic creation and art which is significant to the world. Observing an artist’s experience of the process can help you think about your own process.

Breaking Out

Artists are notorious for experimenting and pushing the limits. Many artists hate to be restricted, especially by rules or institutions. This is not just belligerence, but an openness and willingness
to go beyond the boundaries, an attitude essential for explorers to discover new worlds.
Openness is required in any field of endeavor of anyone who is asking and seeking and knocking on doors. The creator must be willing to receive from beyond the boundaries and to step outside the norm, because their quest is to make something that does not yet exist.

This is why I ask you to put up with me referring to faith. How do I know something which does not exist can be created? Faith is for stepping into the unknown. I suppose there is the option of always playing it safe . . .

The Ineffable Moment

As an artist each course of action I choose starts with an interior moment. It varies in kind and intensity, but I have matured enough to be able to recognize it and cooperate as the feeling becomes an idea morphing from one configuration to another. I hope for that interior moment. I devise ways to prompt it, such as viewing and listening to lots of finished art, or meditating on a scene by drawing it. I sometimes walk with my camera framing and immersing myself in compositions of my world.

Taking the Time

These activities take time and if I do not take that time, I worry about the growing distance from inspiration. The cares of life tend to distract and rob me of time and energy for inspiration. Without inspiration depression is near and I know that is a deadly slope, killing the creative impulse. Some do not recover.

The Spark That Animates

So, like most people in desperate straits, I pray. I ask God for the inspiration. Often I do not know what to ask except “Please send the inspiration.” I do not set my mind, skills and imagination aside as an inert lump awaiting a divine puppeteer to move me. (See the art detail accompanying this post above.) Instead, I ask believing. Believing is active listening because I know there is an answer to receive and it causes me to keep asking. I have an image of confidently pestering God, like a child in whom God delights being asked to manifest in my world.

I believe in incarnation, that God animates my imagination, cognition, emotions, and skills, generating new creation. This is a collaboration with the divine which is responsible for more breakthroughs in science, industry, ministry, literature, theology, philosophy, and the arts than we are aware of, or might admit.

Before continuing discussion of the Inspiration Stage, here are two questions from the Table of Creation:

Receptivity from beyond our boundaries

Am I open to input from beyond my boundaries? (What are my boundaries? Will I let them be expanded? Does my faith recognize God inside my boundaries?)

Contemplation in Solitude

Do I have or allow myself sufficient solitude to be able to discern spiritual guidance and inspiration?

I invite you 

Be one of the community building around this series. I invite you to get your copy of the art journal/adult coloring book version which I have created for this series. To get your copy click on the “Buy Now” button at right. Then go to our Facebook group page HERE, ask to join and share your experience of the book.