Finding Inspiration

I recently received a letter from a reader.  First of all let me say this made my day!  She was very complimentary and interested in what I do.  It always feels good to be  appreciated.  Thanks, Sydney.  

One of her questions was “Where do you find inspiration?”  This is a good question and it made me think.  I find inspiration everywhere in life, but I mostly find it in the materials we use at Wee Warhols.

I love to go on material hunts at thrift shops.  I try  to find things that are already kinda cool on their own and then have the kids build on those.  For example: sheet music, records, tapes, old maps, comics…  I like to find old phones, battery-operated stuffed animals that can be taken apart and examined, then put back together in weird ways.  Or just materials that we can tinker with.  White bedsheets are fantastic for large action art projects.

Action Art at Wee Warhols
Action Art at Wee Warhols

I find a lot of inspiration from other art bloggers, teachers, and moms on Instagram and on Pinterest.  I was kinda late to the party when I got into Instagram and now I’ve fallen in love with it.  I am a very visual person, so it is a social media platform I really identify with.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how many relationships I’ve formed via IG and what a loving, supportive community all the makers and moms have built.  I know that Pinterest can be overwhelming to some people, and that some people feel guilty when they pin things but never follow through with using the creative ideas.  I say get rid of that guilt and just be inspired by all the creativity out there.  Maybe I’ve made one or two crockpot recipes from Pinterest, but there are at least 200 recipes that I’ve liked or pinned, then left there to die.

I order tons of books on Amazon for inspiration.  (Probably too many.)  Some of my favorite books for inspiration are:

  1. TinkerLab – Rachelle Doorley

     2. The Artful Parent – Jean Van’t Hul

     3. Any of the Art Lab books- Susan Schwake

     4. Any of MaryAnn F. Kohl’s books

When I mentioned that I get inspiration for the materials we work with  I really meant it.  I like to roam the aisles at Home Depot or a local craft store and just see what jumps out at me.  Those materials will be set on a table in the studio and I know that is what I want to work with first that week.  I make sure to store all my materials in clear jars or drawers that are labeled.  If I can’t see them I will not think to use them.  Sometimes after dropping the boys off at school I have very little time to prep for a class.  I look around the studio and find what talks to me.  I have gotten to know my students very well and know what they get excited about, what keeps their attention.  So a lot of the time I plan around their personalities and interests.

I like to switch things up and try new activities each day to keep my interest as well as the kids’. I would get bored doing the same lesson plans over and over.  That is why we may do sculpture one day, science another, and insert math in fun ways, or paint… You never know what you’re going to get.  You will not find a themed week here at Wee Warhols.  Every child has a uniquely creative mind and I make sure to challenge them — and sometimes even let them lead the activities.  Most of the time I present the children with materials and an idea or some direction, but ultimately discover what they come up with on their own.

Where do you find your inspiration?  Please respond in the comments below.