Why I Don’t Agree With “Inspiration Is For Amateurs.”

At least, not entirely.

I’ve been having this discussion since art school. Mostly with kids in art school who learned simply to parrot what sounded cool instead of considering what it actually meant.  After one such occasion, when a girl snobbishly used that quote to argue a point I had made, I replied:

Waiting to be inspired is for amateurs, being inspired is not.


You may ask what the difference is and I’ll tell you. If you are too cool to be inspired by the wonders of life, what good are you? Seriously? What good as a human, especially as an artist, are you? I hope I never lose my desire to be inspired. I’ve never understood those sad souls who go around too hip to be blown away by something or so tragically serious they can’t find joy in something decidedly unhip.

In that same class, the one with the snobby girl, the teacher tried telling us we all had to be pretentious to be artists. Gag me with a flipping spoon. He actually argued what the definition of pretentious was after I showed him the meaning. From Webster. The rest of the class seemed to buy it, but that’s another story.

It seems to be this kind of people who take the quote to mean what it doesn’t. Too serious. They read it as validation of their too coolness.

This quote came up a few days ago to argue against artist’s block. The person actually said it doesn’t exist. They used this article to back their claim. It’s a great article and to be fair, the quote is used as the headline. However, I believe artist block exists 100%.  One may never experience it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. One may use it as an excuse for being lazy, but that doesn’t mean another doesn’t actually experience the real thing.  I’m not the only one. As I mentioned before, Carol Marine wrote a whole chapter about it.  Yes, a daily habit helped her out of it, but that doesn’t mean she was lazy before.

That doesn’t mean she was waiting to be inspired. The article itself has the following quote as well:

“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you didn’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”

Again, what is the point of painting if I’m not inspired by things around me? Do you honestly believe Monet wasn’t inspired by the light on the hay stacks? I don’t wait to be inspired. I don’t sit around wringing my hands. I go after inspiration with a club. If I’m not inspired by my subject, I get inspired by the colors I use. Or the surface I paint on or the size I paint.

I’ve struggled with my relationship with art for years, but there is always something to love about it. That’s why I’ve fought so hard for it.

Daily habits are wonderful and they do help with artist’s block, but that doesn’t mean the block doesn’t exist.  That doesn’t mean depression or anxiety is not real, if that is stopping you from creating. It just means you have to find a way to work around it.  Any way that works for you is the b est way. I went to my  studio door every day for a year. I couldn’t walk through it because of the anxiety I experienced.  Earlier this year, I just couldn’t imagine still being an artist. But here I am.

I think this article proves block does exist and daily habits are one, great way to deal with it.

I can’t wait to find a daily habit that works for me. If there is one. I try new ones out all the time. Do you have one? What is it? Have you had artist’s block? Do you think it is fake?

About Elisha

Elisha Dasenbrock is an award winning, international watercolor artist. She paints with a limited palette on claybord. Dasenbrock graduated from the American Academy of Art in 2009 and has been painting professionally ever since.