Where does inspiration come from?



This pendant holds a miniature reproduction of my pastel, “Open Heart, Open Hands.” This symbolized to me, when the emotion pours from a joyful, open heart it flows out to action in our hands. We give to others, we create good things for others. That joy flows forth into the world.

Inspiration comes from many different places and this came to me when I was sitting in the hot tub and the water was foaming all around my heart and I thought of the imagery of water being a symbol of emotion. Then I thought of a hand cupping the water, helping it pour forth. Since I was alone at the time, I ran inside, and stood in front of a mirror naked and dripping wet with a digital camera, trying to take a reference photo but it’s incredibly hard to take a photo of both hands.

So I thought, aha! I’ll run over to the organic food store. I’m sure to bump into a friend who will be a good sport and model for me! (I DID remember to put my clothes on. I’m not as bad as Archimedes!) I found a local waitress that I knew, so there we stood in the store, as I asked her to stand with her hands in various positions while I took photos. Thank goodness for good sports who put up with crazy artists!

I do agree with Richard Bach on where ideas come from:

Where do I get my crazy ideas? Answer: sleep-fairy, walk-fairy, shower-fairy. Book-fairy. And in these last few years, from my wife. Now when I have questions I ask her and she tells me the answer. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you want to find your soulmate, as soon as you can. – Richard Bach

This art is credited to the hot-tub-fairy. – Patricia Robin Woodruff


The Artist and Writer as Shaman

Shamaness 11"x14" pastel on velour paper by Patricia Robin Woodruff

Shamaness 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper
by Patricia Robin Woodruff

“Artists are the shamans of our time.” – Will Bason

One definition of a shaman by Brendan McGuigan is, “… a person who interacts with both the normal world and the world of spirits, usually acting as a sort of intermediary between the two.”  The more I learn, the more I feel that this is my role in creating art, poetry and prose.  I often feel that when I am writing “in the zone”, the story flows through me.  It’s like I am watching it unfold before me and my job is simply to write it down. The same goes for my art.  Often when drawing a live model different animals, insects or plants may suggest themselves and I weave it into the composition.  When I get done, I am no longer surprised when the model tells me that they have always identified with that imagery. I had a very vivid and powerful dream some years ago, where I was perched on a high mountainside with an ancient Native American man.  He told me solemnly that my name was “Listens To The Wind.”  When I awoke, that made sense to me, since my ideas seem to come from an invisible force.  I can’t see it, but I can sense Spirit by its movement in my mind and its creation through my hands.  So here’s a good affirmation for the week: “I am open to Spirit and the infinite inspiration it provides.” – Patricia Robin Woodruff

The Eternal City and Internal Journey


Sant Angelo

Sant Angelo – 11″x14″ oil on canvas
by Patricia Robin Woodruff

As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

This time last year, I was returning from four months abroad in Italy.   I was transformed by the experience thru the art, the history and the cultures.

I have never seen so much sculpture!  The sensuous sculpture and beautiful, complex carvings soaked into my subconscious through those four months there.  The serene, smiling faces of Etruscan gods, contrasted with the vivid emotions captured in marble carved by Bernini centuries later.  Greek and Roman ideals of beauty stood tall in every museum, while on the streets Renaissance angels alternated with Roman gods and Egyptian lions.

The layers of history everywhere reminded me that many cultures had been and gone in this area.  The huge ancient stones of a temple to Jupiter was now the foundation of a Renaissance palace that got turned into a modern day museum, housing even more sculptures.

Interacting with Italians, Gypsies, Bangladeshi immigrants, and tourists from other lands really was an eye opening experience.  Everyone viewing the city from different perspectives; from busy Italian businessmen walking past the grand Colosseum with barely a glance, to poor Bangladeshi men trying to sell umbrellas.  I saw gypsy children, hardworking Italian farmers, gawking tourists and performing musicians all in the space of one city block.  So many different perspectives to view the world through, it is impossible to think that one-size-fits-all.

As Neil Gaiman said, “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.”

– Patricia Robin Woodruff