16/52 Self Portraits: Travelling Solo

Self Portrait Course by Get Messy Art Journal

Travelling solo is supposed to be empowering and defiant and brave and exhilarating. But for me, travelling solo is lonely and worrisome and feels like only experiencing the world at only half tilt. Insecure, shy, timid, lonely, fearful. Not words used to describe girl power or someone I even want to be friends with. But, people are what give me confidence, joy, curiosity and power. I want someone to share a moment with, someone to stroll with and split a delicious meal with. Someone to photograph and pose with. I like my people and I like travel, I like them together. That is the outside world of travelling solo. But the inside world, the hotel room and the movies and the great sleep and the quiet. Those are the gems that glow like fire amidst the disappointing feelings of travelling solo.

52 Portraits is a photography course in self discovery by Vanessa and is hosted through Get Messy Art Journal. The course is a year-long journey in using photography and words to turn your reflection inward and capture who you are at this phase in your life. Learn more and join the course here. See all of my portraits here. 

Currently September


Each month I record what I am doing, loving, eating, thinking, feeling currently + pair it with my favorite photo from the month. I use this calendar to mark the month. Then I turn them into a mini scrapbook that tracks our entire year in quick, fun facts. See them all here. 

Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Cooking this pasta sauce. It is to die for…

Loving ocean time

Travelling to Vietnam and Korean beaches

Watching The People vs OJ Simpson (INCREDIBLE)

Waiting on life plans to unfold on their own

Planning a trip to the USA for the play therapy conference

Avoiding US election drama #majoreyeroll

Adventuring to the DMZ for our annual scooter run


How to collect inspiration

How to find and collect inspiration for any project. Four ways to store visual and written inspirationInspiration is the magic and the kryptonite of the creative person’s existence.

Right? We love it. We love the pretty things and all the beautiful work that is out in the world. We can look and scroll and pin for hours. But suddenly, when it comes time to do the work we are shockingly uninspired, directionless or unsure of the right path to take. Our inspiration well can seem dry or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, overwhelming.

Collecting inspiration is the fun part, translating it is the magical, but difficult part.

I am currently developing an ecourse called How To Travel Like An Artist, but more than travel, it is about translating the inspiration around you into your craft. Today, I want to share with you how to find, curate and collect the inspiration that is all around you.

I have four main ways I collect inspiration: pinterest, a journal, a mood board and a bulletin board. Four ways may seem like a lot to you, so if you want to start collecting inspiration of your own just pick one to start with that speaks to you the most and will be the easiest for you to maintain. Let’s dive in.

How to find and collect inspiration for any project. Four ways to store visual and written inspiration

1. Bulletin Board

I use this board to collect my own paintings to curate a collection of color stories, patterns, marks, paint strokes and ideas. I reference these pages often when I am choosing colors and patterns for different projects. I add paintings to it when I find a pattern or color combo that I really like. It serves as my ‘bag of tricks’, the best techniques that I have that I know I can fall back on and are my signature style. I rotate paintings out when they feel old or boring and am always adding to it. I create the paintings from simply playing in my sketchbook.

How to find and collect inspiration for any project. Four ways to store visual and written inspiration

2. Journal

After reading these two articles (1 and 2) I became obsessed with how Gay Talese kept everything, but not only did he keep things, but he collaged them. There was no rhyme or reason and yet it was all important and so visually stimulating. I was absolutely moved to be a more active documenter of my inspiration. I grabbed a notebook, bought a fancy pencil and started smashing in any and everything that tickled my curiosity. As you can see there are scraps of unused photos, packaging from said fancy pencils, quotes about bees that blow my mind and more. Anything that I look at twice goes in with no rhyme or reason. Because one day I will need these bits of inspiration and I’ll be ready when that day comes. The journal is a great place that has no rules and no expectations. It’s small, cheap and fits right into my purse.

How to find and collect inspiration for any project. Four ways to store visual and written inspiration

3. Mood Board

Justina Blakeney is one of the most influential artists for me right now. About 90% of my desire to redo my studio was so I could incorporate a mood board like hers. These are simple cork boards that I’ve hung up to create a large space. I simply rip out inspiring images I see. Anything that tickles my fancy. When I see them all up together I can so quickly pick out themes, colors, patterns, textures, clothing, designs that I love. This is the perfect place to keep those postcards, your collection of ‘trash’ and those bits that you just can’t seem to part with. It’s so much better hung up where you can see it and be inspired by it than hidden in a folder. It’s real life pinterest-Tom Haverford style!

How to find and collect inspiration for any project. Three ways to store visual and written inspiration

4. Pinterest

Ok, Pinterest is amazing, but you can get overwhelmed with one million pins, plus the overwhelming anxiety to categorize everything perfectly so you can find it later is crushing. Right? Just me? I love a curated board, so much. I love being able to know all my watercolor pins are on my watercolor board for easy reference. But! What do you do with those pins that are just beautiful?! The colors just scream at you! The lines make you want to draw. The pin just inspires you. You put it on your inspiration board. These are pins that serve only one purpose: to visually inspire you. They are not tutorials to follow or things to buy. They are not even something that makes sense. This is where I go when I want to actually create something new and not just copy someone else’s exact version of what I am making. If you look at my inspiration board, it has a lot of animal vertebrae illustrations…Ill never use those for anything. But! The color, the lines, the shape, THAT is what I will use in a painting maybe or an art journal page. Again, this board has no rhyme or reason, no rules, just a photo that catches your fancy.

Bonus tip to take your inspiration collecting to the next level:

Label what inspires you. On the pin or in your journal, make a note of why this image or quote inspires you. Is it the texture, color, lines, etc. Jot it down so you can remember later.

These are the places I keep things that make my head tilt, make me go hmmm, things that I can’t stop looking at or thinking about, but don’t know why. This is where I go when I need to be inspired instead of to a place to copy. I hope this sparks an idea in you for how to start collecting your inspiration! If you want to learn more about translating what inspires you into your craft of choice, be sure to sign up for my mailing list as I’ll send you more info when my new course comes out. 

Tell me, what inspires you? Where do you keep the inspiration?