Inspiration is for amateurs

It’s hard to focus these days. Crickets have invaded the house and while I thought the sound was quaint at first, I now feel like blow torching the entire place down. I fly from the computer screen, to my phone, back to the computer, checking emails, doing dishes in the laundry room and laundry in the living room. There’s a bathtub in my studio and I practice my yoga next to two new toilets, waiting to be installed.

This week marked my return to design work (hence the silence over here), the official launch of the school routine (geeeeezus I love the schoolbus) and the beginning of extra-curricular activities for the kids. Bref, it’s back to “normal” at Garbarino Acres.

I’ve also been lending a hand to Hudson based artist Nancy Jane Farnum. Twice a week, I put on my painting clothes (a Black Night tee shirt and some seersucker shorts) and head up the mountain to her farmhouse and we get our hands dirty for about 5-6 hours a day. We’ve made wall sculptures, concrete bowls and vessels, light fixtures and are developing a line of wholesale/retail decor items for her upcoming online store.

{honeysuckle heart}

Nancy self categorizes as a maker, but really she’s an artist. If you survive on selling the stuff you make, you’re an artist in my book. And as an artist-apprentice (my own self-categorization) I feel like I’m cutting my baby artist teeth, one at a time. Having someone tell you what to make is the absolute best thing for my brain. I have to shut the hell up and start using my hands. What feels like 20 minutes is actualy 4 hours in her work studio.

In my head, I’ve designed and made an entire pottery homeware collection, built modular wall shelves, I’ve started and ran a floral farm business, written a book, produced a podcast, built an outdoor oven, planted a garden that feeds my family for a whole year and illustrated a number of books. I’ve built a huge lifestyle web magazine, collaborated on a fashion collection, tiled my kitchen, raised pigs for meat, cooked meals for the year and froze them, oh and held a vernissage of my own paintings, which sold quite well, if I do say so myself.


There is no 1thing in my life, but working with Nancy reminds me that living in my head will end up creating barriers that eventually will be too difficult to overcome.

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

-Chuck Close-


6 thoughts on “Inspiration is for amateurs

  1. YES exactly. It’s all about working it out and showing up — Elizabeth Gilbert gives a great TED talk about this (and it’s not overly annoying TED talk-y) — still something I think about when I am dragging my feet writing sad car salesman copy that can’t escape my brain, plugging in data and formulas to get the bigger scope of my budget, answering one electrical call after another… the daily stuff can feel so tedious — but then I hear myself talk sometimes and I impress myself with how much I know and what I’ve managed to do! So YES YES YES to this post. I will need to make a trip soon to see all the work you two have made!!!

    1. I didn’t mean to turn this into a discussion about ME. Woops! Your post really resonates with me this morning and it’s a good reminder when ALL THE THINGS start to cloud and overwhelm focus.

    2. Is it the Elusive Creative Genius Talk? I might have to post that one! And thankfully she’s not talking to herself in the mirror… I REALLY dislike the props during the ted talks!
      I’m so happy that it resonated, and you NEVER sound like a used car salesman.. ever.

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