Inspiration, Motivation, and Super Mario Stars

December 19, 2016 by Miranda

written by 2015-2016 Artist-in-Residence, Meghan Murray

Motivation comes to us in many forms. Perhaps it’s a goal that motivates us (“I’d really like to finish these five paintings for that exhibition coming up!”)

Perhaps motivation comes in a talk with a good friend, or a great presentation like the ArtTalks here at the Umbrella.

Motivation recently visited me in the form of a 6-year-old girl. She marched into my studio during Winter Market, scanned the walls, and promptly said, “Not a lot of art in here” ...and left. Leave it to a child to be brutally honest and make you see things in a different way.  I looked around the studio and knew that she was right – there’s not much on the walls yet. But with this realization, I was reenergized to work harder and focus on my purposeful time here at the Umbrella.

Motivation doesn’t always present itself so willingly, however. Motivation can be difficult to find, and it can be very valuable, but it is not quite as rare and valuable as inspiration. Though motivation and inspiration are often used in the same context, I think that there is a difference between the two. Motivation drives us, but without inspiration, the journey is empty and can be unrewarding. Inspiration is what we truly believe in, and what makes the work worthwhile and important. That said, I really don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to strike – we could be waiting around forever and never get any work done if that were the case. We have to be in the studio every moment, chipping away and making work, even if it is uninspired, because then, when inspiration does strike, we will be ready. A quote by Picasso has been on my mind recently that captures this idea: “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working”. Inspiration is truly a gem when it comes to you, you must be prepared to use every last ounce of it to make your best work.

A candid observation: When inspiration and motivation combine, it almost feels like when you get a Super Star on Super Mario and you become invincible – you move faster with more purpose; awareness of time and surroundings disappears for a moment. It’s rare, and if used correctly, you can produce great work. I was recently granted a “Super Star” moment last week  - I was out for a walk when I saw the last glimpse of the setting sun lighting up the interior of the home across the street from my cottage. The exterior was shadowy and blue, but the second floor window was alight with warm pinks and yellows. I snapped a photo, immediately went back to the studio and didn’t leave till I finished a watercolor painting of the moment. In those few hours, I did feel like an invincible Mario, where every decision is successful and all the materials worked with me to make a solid piece that I was proud of.

So to you, if you are chipping away and waiting for inspiration to strike: I wish you a few Super Stars in the near future!

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