Finding inspiration when you’re an artist can be tricky. Take a look around you. Inspiration abounds in the environment. I am an art quilter. Art quilts are usually small quilts constructed using nontraditional techniques. When I am starting a new project or looking for new inspiration, I look toward nature. Specifically I look toward the ocean. The initial inspiration can be a beach scene, a feeling, or an event.
A beach scene can be kids playing in the surf, a sunset, or something small like a handful of seashells. The horizon is one of my favorite sources of inspiration. It changes with the time of day. Sometimes there are clouds and other times there are dolphins. The piece does not need to be a replica, it can be more abstract. The feeling of being on the beach, the sun on my face, and the breeze in my hair gives intense emotion as well as an image. That moment is the inspiration.
The colors of the ocean inspires my fabric choice. It also leads me to paint fabric to look like water. The currents and tides of the ocean inspire the quilting. The thread brings texture to the piece. Sewing lines mimic the swirls and ripples of the water. Using thread with a metallic shine adds extra sparkle and interest. Beads can be added to show the reflection of the sun on the water.
Another source of inspiration is marine life. Bird and crab tracks make interesting quilting lines. The shape, color and texture of sea shells create a focus area. Fish are a favorite of mine. They vary in color, shape, and personality. They can be shown in an underwater scene with other marine life. There’s a never ending source of inspiration there.
Found objects from the beach can be used as embellishments on a quilted piece. Sea shells can be sewn on or adhered with special craft glue. Shells can also be used as stamps with paint. Small pieces of driftwood and sea glass can also be used as embellishment. Pieces of fishing wire and nets can be used on a piece about the dangers of littering to marine life.
Inspiration comes in waves. There are days where I am flooded with inspiration. Then there are weeks that I have no idea on what to create. When that happens I look through my art journal. I look at the sketches I have drawn, the text I have written, and photos I have taken on past visits to the beach. These can act as a starting point for my next art quilt.