inspired by landscape

Inspiration and Expression

I love playing with words, looking up definitions and origins. Recently while reading The Awen Alone by Joanna van der Hoeven, I came across this statement – “The word inspiration means to breathe in.”

Yes but something connected in my brain. Something I’d actually been thinking about for quite awhile regarding how breathing and making art are similar. So here I am, trying to organize those thoughts. Words feel inadequate because, like breathing, creativity has to be experienced, not explained but I’ll try.

Breath it in

A yoga instructor once described breathing as a partnership between myself and the environment around me. Taking air into the lungs is actually about simply allowing it to happen.. We don’t actually suck it in. Rather, by enlarging the diaphragm and creating empty space, air pressure pushes in to fill the lungs. The only thing I do is make the space. 

Make art inevitable

Relating this to creativity suggests making space for inspiration by slowing down and paying attention. Empty out what’s filling my thoughts. Put myself in ‘oxygen rich’ environments. 

For me, that means things like taking a morning walk by the Bay, viewing art I admire or hanging out with creative friends. I then open up to that positive pressure by quiet time in the studio, gathering my thoughts and feelings. I allow it to fill me. 

Quality matters

Air quality is also an important factor in breathing. It reminds me to be mindful about what I choose to fill my time with. I create a healthy ecosystem by the books I read, the movies and TV shows I watch, and the people I surround myself with. Even the studio playlist can be a factor. 

Your choices may be different than mine because we are each unique individuals. The important thing is to recognize your sources of “healthy oxygen” and surround yourself with them. 

Let it out

Breathing in, of course, is naturally followed by breathing out. Pulling in the muscles of the diaphragm, the lungs compress and the air in them is expressed.

Each of us is also unique in how we express the inspiration we receive. Mine is by painting, writing and gardening. 


Circling back to the book that started me down this path, the author adds one more thing to consider – connection.

“The air we breathe is also the air our ancestors breathed…It is also the air the willow, alder and yew trees exhaled…. We can relate to our environment by simply remembering how to breathe, what we breathe and how it is all connected. From that we gain inspiration as well as being inspired by it.”

Creativity connects us all. Inspiration is the oxygen of our creative practice. 

Hi. I’m Aprille.

I love to help artists make more art. Get your copy of ’10 Reasons to Be Creative’.

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