I am often asked how I come up with ideas for my pieces, and the answer varies widely from piece to piece, and year to year. Sometimes the idea for a piece seemingly comes from nowhere. In 2004, for no apparent reason, I decided I wanted to make a piece inspired by polar bears, and the result was “Polaris”.
As I did not have any actual polar bears handy, I had to rely on photos to develop the project.
If you look carefully, you can see sandblasted, irid, polar bears in the central squares.
Other times a word or phrase will set off a creative direction, as in the time that my youngest son came home from high school and told us that his science teacher told him how much “a teaspoon of the sun” would weigh. This intriguing phrase immediately resulted in “A Teaspoon of the Sun” as seen below.
More recently, I was inspired by a text conversation started by my oldest son, who has the enviable job of working as a marine biologist at a zoo in Washington State. We will occasionally get interesting texts and photos from him as he goes to the airport to pick up various mammals or marine creatures to bring to the zoo. This past June we received this text message: “We picked up two polar bears at the airport today”.
It turns out they were twin polar bear cubs, and were being transported from a zoo in Detroit. Once they arrived at the zoo in Tacoma, they were given watermelon as a treat!
The image of two fluffy, white polar bear cubs having some bright green and pink watermelon after a flight from Detroit was quite intriguing to me! We were not provided with a photo of this event, so I ask the Bing Chat-bot to create an image of “two polar bear cubs eating a slice of watermelon” and it came up with the one on the left below, and if you search the internet for “polar bears eating watermelon” images actually do appear, like the one on the right. Apparently they like watermelon, and it is a nice warm weather snack because contains plenty of water and helps them stay cool in the summer months.
This image percolated through my subconscious for a while. I was intrigued by the bear’s various shades of white and vanilla contrasting with their obsidian black noses and ears (and – did you know- that the skin under their fur is black also?). These neutral colors dramatically contrasted with the layers of green and pink in the watermelon, and the cool blue, green, and aqua of the water. These colors eventually had to emerge in the form of the following bowl!
The cubs are doing well and enjoying their new home!
My message here is that creativity can be based on very simple things. The meaning that you put into your work needs to reflect the things that interest, inspire, and intrigue you. They don’t have to be things that you think will intrigue others, and they don’t have to be complex. If you keep your eyes, ears and consciousness open, you’ll find new ideas everywhere.
I’m sure the next inspiration is just around the corner!