Tag Archives: inspiration

Finding Inspiration in Nature – Geology


I always enjoy the episodes of shows like “Project Runway” when they send the contestants out somewhere, usually with a camera, to find extraordinary visual inspiration. Especially by using a camera, the artists are essentially forced to look at things differently and to notice details.

In past Blasts I’ve written about the idea of taking a walk to jump start creativity when stuck, and I’ve written elsewhere about getting organized and how cameras can help you see things (like clutter) that the eye passes over.

It’s easy when you live somewhere gorgeous to find inspiration in your landscape. When I studied Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, every painter was initially inspired by two things. First the overwhelming presence of the escarpment, where the cliffs met the coast covered in lush temperate rainforest, was a feature in many first works. Second the prominent industrial landscape of the Port Kembla steelworks, an overt disruption to the skyline and an endless source of new shapes and textures, influenced painters, printmakers and sculptors alike.

These are “macro” inspiration – taking motifs from the wider environment. What about looking closer and finding inspiration in the “micro” visual.

For example consider the beautiful slices of agate and similar stones in the Mineral Hall at pretty much any Natural History Museum. They can be used as inspiration for abstract paintings or textile designs. Crystalline structures form the foundation of many a science fiction story.


Geology is the study of minerals and the earth.

It is a huge area of study full of specialty disciplines including microscopic studies of elements through to global systems, and beyond.

Here are some useful sites.





Geology entails investigating landscapes, studying stones and gems, and the formation of soils. It means considering the origin of pebbles, and the movement of tectonic plates. It encompasses paleontology, volcanology and oil drilling. Any of these investigations in the search for new insights would require the kind of creative thinking that allows people to make connections and formulate new theories.



One of the key concepts in geology is the “rock cycle”. The cycle shows the constant flow between different kinds of rock. The processes of erosion, deposits, pressure and heat continually change rocks to sediment to magma to rock. Soil erosion and catastrophes like mud slides or volcanic eruptions happen quickly and visibly. Other changes happen on a grandiose time scale. It takes eons to compress sediments and silts to become sedimentary rock.

In human terms, inspiration or insights may happen in sudden jumps, perhaps impelled by changes in our circumstances. However it takes time and practice for our mindful creativity to grow, spurred by our intentions and desires.

Change, transformation, metamorphosis and cycles – these are the bases of narratives and poetry.

Rock and earth metaphors in language

Metaphors taken from the language of geology abound. The very name we gave our planet is from geology.

Consider “between a rock and a hard place” means stuck between two equally unpleasant alternatives.

Rock and roll may have started considering movement, but geology had to get into the act with the idea of “hard rock”.

People may be “grounded” when they seem sensible or phlegmatic. A person with a short temper may be said to “erupt”.

To “travel a rocky path” speaks to having difficulties in life; to “move mountains” is to achieve that which seems impossible (yet the earth itself moves mountains constantly).

Another movement metaphor: avoid building on “shifting sands” can mean more than just a literal construction but to create a solid “foundation” before moving forward in life – of faith for some; of concept or knowledge in business situations.

We call someone we like “a gem”. A reliable person is “solid as a rock”. Someone inflexible may “stonewall” the discussion.

Irrelevant issues “muddy the waters”. Small instances of poor behavior cumulatively “erode trust”. An overwhelming majority is a “landslide”. A dangerous precedent can lead to a “slippery slope”.

Someone old fashioned may be laughingly a “fossil”, while their attitudes may be “petrified”.

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photo credit: coco+kelley via photopin cc

This week’s news

Iggy Jingles Crafts new headquarters

Our new house

I’m thrilled to say that my husband and I have had our offer accepted on a wonderful, beautifully finished little house in Mid-City. We are doing a super short escrow, to try to get into our new home before the holidays.

So there’s no creativity blast this week, and probably not next week either.

However rather than leaving without any inspiration, I invite you to visit my Pinterest boards, and start your own if you haven’t already….and start Pinning!

My experience is that the more particular and detailed the theme, title and description is for your board the better. The description should contain keywords to help people discover them for searching. Having a bunch of boards with specific titles like “Paper decoupage”, “Crochet”, “Wall art” and “Hot Glue Projects” is better than just one entitled “Crafts”.

Alternatively if you don’t want to be found at all, you can choose to make your boards secret.

You will find everything from recipes to building plans to quotes suitable for framing to fine art to fabulous vacation spots to gardening tutorials on the wide world of Pinterest. I use it as an adjunct to my creative businesses, but you can also use your boards for personal inspiration and to find like minded folk. Please comment on any pins that you especially like.

Stay tuned for the resumption of the Creativity Blasts soon, from my gorgeous new workshop space. I know it will be gorgeous! We are very excited about the prospect of decorating for the holidays this year!

Finding Inspiration Around You – Billboards and posters

Affliction - James Coburn, Nick Nolte

A somber poster that captures the whole story in a moment

If there is one group of designers who have their fingers on the pulse of the latest visual trends, it’s the folks who design posters for movies and television. Movie posters are instant visual storytelling. When they work well they can be an education in the Elements and Principles of design. Plus they are easy to find on billboards, magazines and online.

Genre strongly influences the designs of movie posters and billboards. Action movies with special effects like to focus on heroic moments, or the spectacle. Horror and thrillers will often show abstracted, vague images that add to the mystery. Sci-fi will be blue and silver. Romances will depict the central relationship/s, while you know it’s a comedy when the colors are bright and people are posed in wacky ways. Family films will often show a cluster of the characters, mimicking a family portrait.

My personal preference is for simpler, graphic posters that encapsulate the story or theme immediately, rather than the kind that shows a busy collage of numerous stars and elements in varying scales – a popular, if old fashioned, method especially for dramas. One trend is to showing the ensemble – note how star hierarchy can still be preserved with a “pyramid” layout. I notice that one trend is to creating multiple visually related posters as part of the larger campaign. “Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows II” is a series that springs to mind immediately, as does the major campaign for “Iron Man III”.


Sometimes genre conventions mean similarities that can get in the way of branding. Recently the Museum of Natural History ran a billboard campaign for it’s new “Becoming L.A.” Los Angeles history exhibit. (Looking forward to getting to that one!). It was vintage sepia portraits of a historical family, on a dark background with the title.




Boardwalk Empire

Meanwhile further up the road the HBO hit series about gangsters, “Boardwalk Empire”, had a remarkably similar billboard series featuring sepia portraits of the cast on a dark background. Pretty heavy and dramatic.

I don’t say it is causation, but the new posters for the LA exhibit feature a cow on an orange ground, and a joke about cow poop. This humorous approach suggests lot more fun in the exhibit than the intimidating drama colors and layout.

Historical Posters

Here are two great slideshows about movie posters through history, that highlight the genre conventions and also mention some of the famous graphic designers.

Art of the Movie Poster and History of Movie Poster Art are both by graphic artist Victor Moreno.

Using posters for inspiration

Scrapbookers and card makers looking for layout inspiration can adapt posters in different proportions for their sketches. Once you start noticing billboards and posters to “scraplift”, it’s tough to stop.

Here are some ideas from some current releases.

Last Vegas poster sketch Poster sketch 1


Serenity from Asia Beautiful Tag

From the Serenity From Asia collage sheet

We are less than two days away from the launch of my new Creativity Blast blog and twitter program where I hope you will be inspired to restore and reclaim your creative spirit and start living even more creative lives than you are. I’m pretty amazed that I managed to make my first You Tube video introducing the idea.

Just preparing for this has given me a boost to my spirit, life state and general contentment – and I was pretty darn happy before. I feel like I have found one excellent way to express my mission to help people live more creative, vibrant, happy lives.

One tier of the mission has been going along for a while, as I parent and unschool my wonderful daughter Jayn, and love life with my partner and soulmate, James, as part of an incredible community of home schooling folk.

Another is my own busy arts and writing business, selling my art on Etsy and other places.

The third is the soon to be fully launched Craft-It-Easy e-book business helping Middle School kids and their parents make their crafty school projects – dioramas, miniatures, reproductions and models – fast, fun and easy. Stand by on that one. I’m busy writing and designing projects.

And now finally this concept, which I suddenly find I want to slowly develop into a full scale creativity coaching and mentoring practice, that will one day become the artist’s retreat I dream of owning.

Wow! My life is organized and moving forward – and it all started with decluttering.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. 

~ Isaac Newton quoting Bernard of Chatres (1159)