Where do you get your ideas?

Inspiration Art Process

“The Ideas aren’t the hard bit. They’re a small component of the whole.” Neil Gaiman

Although I agree with Neil (I’ve had moments of overwhelm when I’ve realised that I can’t fit all of the things I want to paint into a single lifetime), I don’t think it’s true for everyone. When something comes easy to you I think it’s difficult to imagine the absence of it. “Where do you get your ideas?” is one of those off-the-cuff questions artists get asked a lot which there isn’t an off-the-cuff answer to. In fact, it seems I had to write an essay in order to answer it.

My Process

“Often ideas come from two things coming together that haven’t come together before… Good ideas don’t just turn up, you have to go looking for them. Research – reading, looking at pictures, playing with different media – provides freedom from the creative paralysis that comes with infinite possibility.” Shaun Tan

The above picture mosaic shows the inspiration for my next painting. There are three distinct elements of inspiration here:

  1. I paint things I like.
  2. I build on past work.
  3. I combine two or more things that haven’t been combined before

First off, let me explain where these images come from. Like the Shaun Tan quote above says, I do my research. When I see something I want to use in a painting it goes in my epic Evernote folder of Inspiration. Usually, when I’ve saved an image of a piece of art it’s because I like an object in it that I want to use in a painting but sometimes it might be something a bit more subtle such as a posture. I saved the top left image because I like the combination of dangling stars and swing. I saved the bottom images because maypoles are cool. They’re not so much reminders that I want to make art anything like these two pieces, they’re reminders that these are cool objects and I should use them one day. The rest of course is just imagination. I know I want to combine stars/celestial bodies with a maypole in some way so I’ll just imagine various ways of doing this until I find an image compelling enough to begin sketching out.

The image on the top right leads me to my final thought…

Creativity Begets Creativity

I think it’s a natural worry amongst beginners that the ideas might run out; that you might be tapping into a finite resource. I suspect the question “where do you get your ideas?” comes from the same place as this concern. Once you begin creating, however, you quickly realise that creativity begets creativity. You create one thing which generates five more ideas because you want to do something differently next time; change something, add something, subtract something, just generally extrapolate on the theme. Pretty soon, like me, you’ll realise you can’t keep up with the pace that ideas are coming in and the concern will shift to one of how to prioritise. Which idea gets your attention, your most precious limited resource: your time.

Last year I dedicated all of January to doing no creative work except for sketching. The plan was I would only turn the very best of my sketches into paintings. I had an absolute ball but it didn’t work. What I thought were the “best” ideas in January weren’t the “best” ideas in June. I’ve since abandoned the idea of there being a “best” thing to create as far too stressful and inhibiting.

I felt really vulnerable writing this post. I’m probably doing myself a disservice by revealing the nuts and bolts of something so intangible as “inspiration” and making my process a little less magical. Having said that, these are exactly the types of blog posts I like to read most from my favourite artists.

The End.

The Greatest Pinterest Boards in All the Lands – Part 2


Pinterest Art

A prolific pinner, Jane Elliot is a staple in my Pinterest feed. Thanks to her Art board I discovered the work of Mr Finch.

Cabinet of Curiosities

Pinterest Cabinet  of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities had me at the “Insane Patients Masquerade Ball” pin. If this isn’t your brand of amusement, I can’t help you.

Garden Getaway

Pinterest Garden Getaway

Garden Getaway isn’t a Pinterest board, it’s cottage garden porn.

Interior Design

Pinterest Interior Design

My Interior Design board is the heart of Pinterest for me.


Pinterest Studios

The Studios Pinterest board tells me I’m not alone in my art supplies / other art-miscellany fetish, which is nice.

Arteest Envy

Pinterest Arteest Envy

Tracy MacLeod is another prolific pinner who’s Arteest Envy board is full of illustrative style art.

What are some of your favourite Pinterest boards?

New Art for the End of the Line Festival

hot air balloon acrylic painting original art nellie windmill

Float Fall, Katherine Herriman, 51x40cm / 20x16", Acrylic on Canvas

Float Fall Girl Detail

Float Fall Balloon Detail

Faux Botanical No 1

Faux Botanical Study No.1, Katherine Herriman, 25.4x25.4cm / 10x10", Acrylic on Canvas

Botanical acrylic painting original art nellie windmill

I had an obscenely good time painting the face, the bunting, and the faux flower in these paintings. You may have noticed I’ve optimistically titled the painting above, “Faux Botanical Study No.1″, in the hopes of painting many more.

I spent the afternoon in the higgledy-piggledy second-hand bookstore – Through the Looking Glass – in Belgrave today, setting up my little exhibition in the front window. If you missed last week’s podcast, I’ll be participating in the End of the Line Festival this Saturday, which is shaping up to be a stonker of a day. Stonker’s not a word but it felt right. If you’re a Melbournian check it out!

New Art & My Premiere Exhibition

Owl Nellie Windmill

Nap, Katherine Herriman, 25.4x25.4cm / 10x10", Acrylic on Canvas

Owl 2014 Balloons Detail

My Owl Barn_Nellie Windmill

Original Art_Constellation

Constellation, Katherine Herriman, 25.4x25.4cm / 10x10", Acrylic on Canvas

Original Art_Constellation Detail

Original Art Constellation Detail of Stars

End of the Line Festival

The paintings above are two of the pieces I’ll be exhibiting at the End of the Line Festival in Belgrave on Saturday 30th November! The festival organisers have hooked me up with an incredibly apt little nook of Belgrave – “Through the Looking Glass” – a higgledy-piggledy second-hand book store. I’m so thrilled with this arrangement because I went through a couple of other potential spaces which didn’t feel right at all and figuring out what to do about that was a whole big thing. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post though.

I’ll be posting the rest of the new work that I’ll be exhibiting on the blog next week. I’m really thrilled to be able to say that this body of work comprises my favourite pieces to date.

My Owl Barn 2014 Calendar

Amazingly, this is my third year doing the Owl Lover Calendar! If you’re new around here, the Owl Lover Calendar is a pretty cool concept — 40 artists contribute an owlish piece of art, which means people can customise their own calendar by picking and choosing their 12 favourite images, which they then print off. Also, it’s free.

So if you’re the type of person who’d love nothing more than to have an owl adorn their wall year round, go and snaffle yourself a calendar.

Pretty Things be Mine!

Socks and Stockings

Centre image by Silvee van Toor

I discovered Sock Dreams way back in the Nettle days when buying online pretties was a distant dream. I pinned them instead and just the other day remembered all the amazing socks and stockings past me had wistfully pinned and went and bought them!

When the socks arrived in the post I was working on this painting and was struck by the similarity in colour palettes! Can you guess what my favourite colours are?

Socks and work in progress art

Etsy Coasters

Stone coasters by The Ends

It occurred to us that when we eventually do buy a house and move in it’s going to be a very empty house. We own all of the major appliances and a bed but that’s really it. We decided it would be a good idea to start buying things for our home now because I have been known to take months to find something to my liking. The only problem with this plan is that we can’t buy any big things like furniture because we don’t have anywhere to put them. Clearly we could live without coasters but… I don’t know what to say. I just wanted coasters.


The Emily and Meritt Bunny Alarm Clock from PB Teen

This was a purely spontaneous purchase, although I would like to have a collection of vintagey clocks one day. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved an inanimate object more except for maybe Beautiful Baby, a doll I’ve had since I was 6 months old.

Replica Industrial Lamp

Replica 1950's Swing-arm Industrial Architects Lamp by Timberson

I’ve been wanting to buy a daylight lamp for my studio table all year. Daylight lamps that are marketed as professional artist lamps are horrible, ugly plastic things but it occurred to me you can just buy daylight bulbs and put them in any lamp. Since this realisation I’ve been on the lookout for a lamp for the better part of a year. Did I mention I’m picky? There are plenty of gorgeous genuine vintage lamps on Etsy but I can’t bring myself to spend $500 or more on a lamp. When I found this replica 1950′s swing-arm industrial architects lamp on Etsy I knew I had found The One. I contacted the maker and was told he doesn’t ship to Australia. Tragedy. After this happened a couple more times I finally settled on the Pottery Barn lamps below.


Clamp Lamp

Green Jumpsuit

This green jumpsuit is truly a thing of beauty. I had mine made with gaucho pants as I was a bit worried I’d look like I was wearing pyjamas otherwise and I had the back made a bit less open. Kari of Clementiny Clothing is the maker and absolutely delightful.