Facebook Twitter pinterest.png  Google Plus

Omphaloskepsis Blog

Inspiration: What is it and why does it matter?

Jan 27, 2014

"I think of inspiration as desire infused with spirit and topped with an almost reckless optimism. Inspiration enables us to transcend our limitations and accomplish things we never thought possible. [...] When our tasks loom impossible before us and threaten to keep us grounded, inspiration gives us wings." -7 Reasons Inspiration Matters to Writers

On the drive to see some one-act original plays, my husband and I got into a conversation about inspiration, probably based on a radio broadcast. He thought the only person he ever inspired was an employee when he worked in Florida for Progressive. I was quite surprised to hear his impression because 1. I feel inspired quite often and 2. I know I've inspired others because they tell me. I asked John, who inspires you? The late Peter Lewis was inspirational to him. Peter Lewis was a businessman, a billionaire and a great leader. CEO of Progressive corporation his inspiring mission was for Progressive to be the greatest company in the history of the world. Pretty lofty goal, but one that his employees got behind because it made them feel they were working towards something greater than themselves and the share holders.


The Progressive Corporation houses the most robust and renoun corporate art collection, started by Toby Devan Lewis and Peter B. Lewis.

What is inspiration really?

In Scott Barry Kaufman's article Why inspiration matters he writes, "First, inspiration is evoked spontaneously and without intention by something. Another key quality of inspiration is that it is transcendent of our more animalistic and self-serving concerns and limitations. Such transcendence often involves a moment of clarity and and awareness of new possibilities. Finally, inspiration involves approach motivation, in which the individual strives to transmit, express, or actualize a new idea or vision."

Inspiration literally means, "to breathe in and be filled with spirit of the gods." The gods were the muses of ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, all creativity came from the gods. The contemporary definition of inspiration is "a motivating action or influence that results in creative works and productivity of all kinds." (from the article, What is inspiration?)

Why does inspiration matter?

In the article, Why Inspiration Matters, the author writes: In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities. Inspiration may sometimes be overlooked because of its elusive nature. Its history of being treated as supernatural or divine hasn’t helped the situation. But as recent research shows, inspiration can be activated, captured, and manipulated, and it has a major effect on important life outcomes.

I searched the web to find out why inspiration is important and was not thrilled with what I couldn't find. Some people say that inspiration gives our lives meaning. I think it’s a little more focused than that. Inspiration gives our mission, task, project…what we are doing…meaning. It’s different from motivation.

Maurice de Castro writes about the difference between the two in his article What is the difference between motivation and inspiration? He writes: People who are motivated are the people who take hold of an idea and run with it with total focus, dedication, commitment and energy. People who are inspired have an Idea which takes hold of them. Inspiration becomes an energy, a passion, a destiny which consumes our very being to the point of understanding what we are here to do and why it is we are doing what we are doing.

Chainsaw Accident

Chain Saw Accident, latex on paper, 62 x 54" $3500

I paint paintings like the water paintings, and the portraits and The Accident Painting series. When people ask me what is your inspiration in regards to the Accident Paintings, they’re really asking me, why did you paint this? Why would you paint this?


Like the Leonard Cohen Song, latex on canvas, 29 x 22" $850

As my husband and I drove along I thought about him saying he hadn’t inspired anyone and realized that I took for granted that I had inspired people as if it were an everyday occurrence. I felt humbled and began to appreciate what had happened in  my studio last week and felt humility. A friend came to pose for me. She brought her guitar but hadn’t planned on playing until she saw the pose I set up for her, the one in which she would not be playing for me, because she was facing away from me. She told me she hadn’t played in two years. She gave it during the trauma of her divorce. After the pose, she offered to play at one of my openings. She was inspired.


My husband and I arrived at our event - a group of one-act plays and poems inspired by paintings, including my painting, Skydiving Zombies. The poem and play were so outstanding. In fact, all 14 of the written and performed pieces were outstanding.

Every time I have an open studio I hear comments seeking information about how to have your own studio, and living a life true to your spirit. As artists we have a responsibility to go down the path with integrity, to fulfill our potential not for ourselves, but because it inspires great things in others.




Category: Philosophy
blog comments powered by Disqus
blog comments powered by Disqus