Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! I am not Irish and do not particularly celebrate. I’m much more likely to spend my day cooking ropa vieja, platanos fritos, and rice and beans than corned beef and cabbage. But I realized as I was organizing my yarn purchases from Stitches West that the miniscule Irish blood in me must have been in full force that weekend.
California has been in a very serious drought for quite some time now, and in another few months, there won’t be green anywhere except for well-watered yards. But in driving to Silicon Valley, we passed scenery that made me feel as though I was driving through the Irish countryside. And although green is not usually the color I gravitate towards, I somehow managed to come home with a spring palette of deep oceanic green with a touch of melon.
I am back at work on new designs, and I realized as I was flipping through my sketchbook, how much inspiration I’ve been taking from where I live. This is certainly nothing new to artists, but many of the big name fashion designers talk about taking expensive, exotic “inspiration trips” before they work on their next collection. I don’t believe in waiting for vacation to find inspiration, as I think it is everywhere if you look for it. And in my opinion, one of the best skills you can develop creatively is to find inspiration in your daily life and surroundings, not just when you’re travelling. If you have this skill, then you can pursue your creative passions even if you don’t have the means to travel.
I have loved life in LA practically from the minute I stepped off the plane. That isn’t to say it wasn’t hard relocating here – I was terrified the first day I woke up in our new apartment and realized I didn’t know a single soul, left behind everyone I might have been able to go to coffee with, and didn’t even know where the local grocery store was. It was hard work to get established in a new place, and almost 8 years later, I still get weary sometimes of being the “new girl”. But I did (and still do!) love the overwhelming sense of having a new world to explore. So many different cultures, a huge city to explore, all the sights and scenery that are nothing like where I moved from. And when I travel, I am always reminded when I come home of how happy I am to be here.
Southern California is quite a dichotomy – my favorite things are the mountains and the ocean. I realized as we were driving home the other day what a special thing it is to be able to take my kids up into the mountains to experience winter and snow, but to also be able to leave all the slush and 10 layers of clothing behind and come back to the balmy 70 degrees in Burbank to work. The day this photo was taken, it was about 75 degrees in the San Fernando Valley, and yet, there are beautiful snowcapped mountains visible from the freeway.
As for food, of course a huge city like LA has practically anything you could dream up. We have always loved alot of ethnic food, so that is not particularly new to us. But one of my favorite discoveries here has been fish tacos. I’m sure other places have them, so I don’t know why they weren’t on my radar before, but for whatever reason, they are one of my favorite LA foods.
Then there are the things that are just backwards compared to everywhere else. If you ever move to LA, don’t get rid of your umbrellas! Yes, it’s true that rain is scarce, but umbrellas are apparently multi-functional. We use them to shield ourselves from the sun when we attend our children’s softball games or other such events. I showed up to my daughter’s first softball game, and the other moms sitting there seemed shocked I didn’t bring my umbrella. But of course!
I hope you enjoy seeing my inspirations. If you have moments of feeling uninspired, take a day off to explore where you live. Keep a camera and a sketchbook with you, and consider what makes your surroundings unique. What is your favorite food, what are your favorite plants or animals, or your favorite spot to be outdoors? Usually if you take a moment to look more closely, you will notice things and your inspiration will revive itself.