Filling the creative well – What inspires you? (places)

I don’t know about you but I find reading about what inspires other people, well, rather inspiring.

Over the next few months I’ll be sharing a glimpse into what is on the reading list, playlist and more from some of my favourite visual artists, art therapists and crafty folk who I’ve been speaking with lately.

What is the place in nature that most inspires you?

Nancy: I find spending time in the forest surrounded by trees to be the most inspiring environment to me. I often think of a metaphor of the wounded tree as one hit by lightening leaving a wound, while it leaves a charred hole, it also continues to grow, with creatures living inside or new life branching out from limbs above. Now I see these openings as places to be filled instead of looking at what is missing. What are the treasures that are found within?

Chris: Right behind the house when I was growing up there was this huge, forever big forest, it was a dense forest right behind the house.  We explored those woods forever especially during the summers. There was a squirrel in there that would throw nuts at you and there was a black pond, and an old abandoned tree fort and I swear it was 20 foot in the air, and we started nailing boards to it so we could use it. We’d steal like nails and hammers and wood from our dads garages. We spent a lot of time out in the woods and that would fire up our imagination. We would tell stories. Or when I got a car we would take my car on rainy nights to this place called Mendon Ponds which was a place that had all these big ponds and like a sunken hole pond called the Devils Bathtub. It was those kinds of places that had mystery that had more questions than answers that spurred on young imaginations and the desire to know something bigger about the world.

When I was growing up I loved the show ‘In Search of’ by Leonard Nimoy. Each week he’d do a show on different things like the Nascar lines, UFO’s Big Foot, that type of thing. I love the idea that that there are things out in the world that we’ve never seen. Like when glowing giant squids come up from the ocean or that giant fish with the dangly bit: I love that stuff. I the like mystery of the natural world. Mix that with monsters and super heroes and pop culture, I love that.

 I like the mystery of the natural world. Mix that with monsters and super heroes and pop culture, I love that.

chris monster
Image: Chris Mostyn


Gretchen: one of the places I find peaceful is the college Ursuline, that I teach at as an adjunct. They have a labyrinth on the campus and the campus is really beautiful, lots of grass and trees and really peaceful. They have a painted labyrinth and it’s a really calming site. I try to go out there and walk the labyrinth once every few months and be in that space.

About the artists interviewed:
Nancy Lautenbach
– I have worked as an illustrator, graphic designer, arts administratorand for 4 years owned a gallery/performance space called Ten Weston Gallery in Grand Rapids, MI where I grew up and lived until 1997. I am a practicing interdisciplinary artist working in a variety of media including: pen and ink, sculpture, ceramics, installation, fibers, and bookmaking.  I always carry a sketchbook and/or camera with me. Read more here.

Chris Mostyn – I have taught art in middle school for over a decade now. I have seen a lot of amazing things from kids and some from teachers as well. I have also seen a lot of things that need to change. I have been an illustrator and gallery artist for years but it was always comics I loved best. In 2015 it dawned on me that I had a lot to say about art and teaching and comics would be a fun way to do it. So now, I continue to teach, make comics and ride bicycles around the Midwest. Read more here.

Gretchen Miller – I am a Cleveland based Registered Board Certified Art Therapist who enjoys finding inspiration, creating positive energy, and discovering transformation by working in mixed media, collage, altered art, art journaling, as well as organizing art exchanges and creative collaborations. My online art making community, 6 Degrees of Creativity unites concepts of social networking, connecting, collaboration, and creativity into an engaged global community of artists spreading creative goodness. Read more: Creativity in Motion. Read more here.

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