Thoughts on inspiration

After a prolific blogging period on the quest for Jan van Boeckel at the end of last year I am lying low now, anticipating a next move. All I know is that I am not finished with Jan van Boeckel’s story. The moment I force my way forward however, inspiration dries up. I can only move forward when everything clicks together and feels right. While I am waiting, let me at this point at least share some thoughts on my creative approach with you.

zeven1When I paint, I do not think about what I’m going to paint, I put lines and colour on canvas and the inspiration comes as I work, the creation creates itself. This process is much more complex than it sounds and can be pretty frustrating. I have to be able to discern very subtle prods of inspiration. A similar thing happens when I write. And when taking photographs.

Delving into a story is a journey into the unknown. I do not know where it will take me, what I will learn, and who I will meet. I do not control the story, the story controls me. As I listen to its heartbeat it shows me the way.

Forest with gateway

And so it is with photography. The scenes are not thought out in detail beforehand. I photograph as inspiration leads me. There are always photos on my camera that fit seamlessly into the story I am telling. The images seem to carry the story, a silent witness to events.

In fact, one of my readers sent me a reaction in which he refers to “Guilty Landscapes”, a phrase coined by the Dutch artist Armando. Where Armando very anthropocentrically, pins a ‘guilty’ label on nature, a photographer from The South of the U.S.A. named Sally Mann, describes this phenomenon differently:

 “The earth doesn’t care where death occurs, it’s job is to efface and renew itself.  It’s the artist who by coming in and writing about it or painting it or taking a photograph of it makes that earth powerful and creates death’s memory because the land isn’t going to remember itself, but the artist will.”

Interesting points of reflection. One way of looking at it is that trees, or even man-made fences, only bear witness to time, they probably do not even notice our human follies or the stories taking shape in their vicinity. It is you and I, with our human perspectives, who brand the landscape with an emotion.


My photographs look quite innocent until I frame them with a story. They then take on a different meaning and offer the story an added dimension. I actually turn them into ‘guilty’ landscapes even if they are nowhere near the place, as if they were witness to, or even  participated in the events described.

While I wait for inspiration, I will be mulling over this phenomenon …



13 thoughts on “Thoughts on inspiration

  1. I am going to take some time soon and catch up on Jan’s story. Good to take a break when you need it and not force yourself or else the joy runs dry.
    I love trees. I used to love touching birch and beach trees as a girl, climbing trees, smelling trees, etc. (Locust trees stink, literally!) I love tree skeletons when the leaves fall off. Interesting how you can take an everyday tree and make it an accomplice. A cool idea!
    Happy New Year! I hope 2016 treats you well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trees are fascinating, all nature is.Please tell me what you think when you do catch up on the quest for Jan van Boeckel. I hope you have an inspired and happy 2016 and that you will find what you are looking for! Are you going to blog again?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok, I will let you know after I catch up.

        About blogging….I did post one short thing a couple of days ago, and I do want to blog. I have to find some kind of balance, and it is elusive for me. I went at it full bore for most of 2015 and ended up dreading it by late summer. But that is because I felt compelled to read every post by every blogger I like and be a superwoman about posting regularly myself. There is an etiquette to it which I have not mastered in terms of being present for other writers I have come to like and appreciate. And I also set the bar high for myself in terms of what and how often I posted. I just could not sustain it but for a while I pushed myself to try–told myself I should go about it like exercise and just do it. That didn’t last.

        I appreciated your own musings on creating and inspiration. They ring true. No more forcing for me. Writing is meant to be a joy. And I owe nothing to anyone in that regard. It is not my livelihood. But I can lose perspective.

        I am pretty sure this is more sloppy confession than you were looking for. Sorry!! Obviously still trying to figure out how this can work for me….

        For what it is worth, I slowly pared down, blog by blog, which blogs I had sufficient interest and stamina to keep up with. Your is one of my faves, and has hung in there with about three or four others I can’t leave 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Judging by the length of your comment, I can only conclude that you are raring to write again :-). Indeed forcing your writing is not a good idea, and feeling obliged to read is not either. Keeping close to your authenticity will however give you incredible amounts of energy and joy. So all I can say is learn to listen to it, although I warn you that is something you continously and constantly have to look at and question. But than nothing is easy. Hope to see your creations again, however sporadically…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. To me, writing comes from somewhere outside myself. I am often amazed to read what I have written.
    Your painting has meaning. I lack your visual sense, but in an optimistic New Year’s mood this morning, I see your tree photo as an animal standing to raise a toast.

    Liked by 2 people

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