Hey buddy, can you paradigm?
Okay, I'll apologize for that, but I love a good bad pun. The point of this discourse is finding inspiration, specifically not where you are used to looking for it. Jaime Morris, the writing coach, is tackling the same subject on her blog (see on writing link at right) if you want another viewpoint. When I was teaching creative thinking many years back, my goal was to get the students, most non-artists, to experience the world in a new way. Motivate them to turn over new rocks for their inspiration. Their homework each week was to try something different. It was not a tough class and still I had slackers, but a few did what I asked with good results. We fall into patterns in our lives; shows we love to watch, favorite haunts to feel comfy in, painters we love, music we have to listen to to feel right, a bar or restaurant we go to every week because it's what we know. When we give ourselves the same input everyday, however, we get the same output. Same crap in, same crap out. Painting is like that too. If you want to make a leap creatively, try something new. Go to a place you have never been, shake your doughy psyche up and try something that might shift your paradigm a click or two. Inspiration can come from so many sources once you are open to it.
Though I'm not good with change, I know change is good. Some of my best ideas have come from some experience that was foreign to me and, as I'm sure you know, ideas come from making connections. Two things that don't belong together get teamed up to form a brilliant child. If you are in a rut, let me suggest some things that might get you into a new place of humming creative acuity. Go to a demolition derby, if you love karaoke, take a french cooking class, go see a drag show, an antique mall is a huge source of inspiration, read something you would never read, something that rubs your bias the wrong way. Inspiration can come when you open yourself up to new things. And the more open you are the more the ideas flow. For example, this painting came from wanting to experiment with the idea of a still life, I did it about 3 years ago, but I like it still. I wanted to create an artificial dialogue between the elements. But this isn't the great idea part, that came later after reading a book called "The beak of the finch", a fascinating account of the first empirical data collected that proved the theory of evolution. While looking for stuff to paint in an antique store, I saw these lovely little painted porcelain birds and a connection came between what I had learned from the book and what these birds meant to me... and how I could use them to tell a story. I haven't done anything with the idea yet but it's still a good idea that came from two new sources.
Shake up your normal. Go out and try something that isn't like you and see what comes.