Last week my husband and I spent a day at the Art Institute of Chicago. A visit to an art museum and to the city is one of the ways I fill up my creative well.
Since we live in the Chicago area, the museum is only a short train ride, one of my favorite ways to go to the city. I take my journal and observe people. I watch as they board and disembark, noticing their age, dress and if they sit close to me, I listen to their dialect. I also discreetly listen to snippets of conversation and realize how each person is involved in diverse situations.
As the train winds into the heart of the city, I look out the window at the tall buildings and strain my eyes to maybe peek inside an open curtain and wonder what an apartment or condo looks like in the city. What do people think or dream about? I get an idea for a short story about a single woman who lives downtown and before we arrive at the station, I give her a name.
We walk to Michigan Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Chicago. I hear cars going by, cabs zooming past with horns blaring. I smell exhaust, tobacco, coffee brewing from a coffee shop. I try to engage my senses.
We finally enter the museum. Conversations are more hushed and people are walking slower. I find a bench and sit down to look at my favorite painting: Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877, by Gustave Caillebotte. I ask myself: Who are the people in the painting? How does the artist paint something that causes us to stop and stare and inspire us to create in our own ways? I could have sat there for an hour, but we continue through the museum and are moved by what we see.
The day ends too quickly and we come home tired, with sore feet, but I am filled up. As I sit on my livingroom couch, I pull out the postcards I bought of the paintings that caused my heart to soar. I don’t want to lose this feeling of a full creative well, but I know it will pass. So, I grab my journal and write down those ideas and inspirations that I don’t want to forget.
How do you nurture your creativity?