How Artists Index Their Inspiration

9 Nov
stack of art sketchbooks

Stack of my sketchbooks.

open sketchbook

Pages from one of my sketchbooks.


I finished reading a craft article titled “Indexing Your Inspiration” which described the many ways crafters could invest in organizing their supplies and various examples of ideas for later use.  It seemed more of an advertisement pushing their system as the cure to lack of inspiration, not just another expensive organizational item.

I thought about how I store my inspirational ideas and how I retrieve them for paintings.  I do use photographs, taken by my husband, daughters, myself and others (with permission of course) but rarely print them out anymore.  Most of my pictures are on my computer these days – no more boxes of prints.  I don’t do much more than organize these pictures by year.

I also use my sketchbooks for inspiration.  I didn’t even realize how many I had until I started to pull them off my bookshelf.  The picture above only shows part of my collection.  About half of them are full.  Some contain pencil or ink sketches, some painted with watercolor or acrylic, used indoors or out.  I even use these books to make notes during a workshop, a demo or a presentation.  Drawing the speaker, the scene or room helps me remember the event.  It quickly brings me back to the instruction they were giving.

I don’t really have a formal index of my inspiration.  I’m not sure this would help me as many of my ideas remain in my head!  This would make an interesting subject at an art gathering.   I’d love to hear how other artists organize their inspiration.


4 Responses to “How Artists Index Their Inspiration”

  1. Sand Salt Moon November 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    WOW – a lot of sketchbooks! I use Pinterest for inspo and have lots of boards, and many pins. I also find inspiration in nature and always have a glass dish on my work table filled with bits. Which reminds me to take the acorns out of my jacket pocket from my walk this afternoon.

    • Katie Turner November 10, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

      I totally forgot about Pinterest. I’ve pinned a few but probably don’t use it as much as I could. Do you organize your pins by medium, subject, artist or some other way?

      • Sand Salt Moon November 10, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

        I have a lot of boards – I organize by so many categories – medium, subject, “The Masters”, you name it!

  2. Katie Turner November 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    I also like the acorns & items in the glass dish idea. Its nice how you bring nature into your creative space.

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