I recently purchased a wonderfully inspiring book, The Natural History Book: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth published by DK Publishing. It is heavy with images of spectacular form and color. One section that I find visually stimulating is the one on fungus.
I’m intrigued by the shapes and the textures. The way a ruffled ear grows off an oak or a cap unfurls from its stem. Some spread, others reach. Some grow stacked. Some keep to themselves.
The colors and patterns can seem quite outrageous for such a humble plant. More outrageous still are the toxins contained in some of them.
The inspiration I find in images like those in my new book is a certain type of inspiration. I think of it as Indirect Inspiration. I look at them and notice things about them. However, I do not have a purpose in mind. Nothing I am setting out to do or imitate. I just let them get inside my imagination. They live there and mix with all the other things I absorb indirectly.
It’s a lot like growing mushrooms. The spores settle down into the dark without any further attention. One day, they break through and become something remarkable. I do not know the What or the When or the Where. And certainly not the Why. But in time and under the right conditions, they will metamorphose. Part of living a creative life consists of opening yourself up to inspiration–even the mundane things underfoot and the inconspicuous ones overhead–because you never know what might be there waiting for the fertile ground of your imagination.