Believe it or not, there is no rule book on how to run a small business creating ministry stoles and worship banners! So sometimes people ask, "where do you get your inspiration?" Honestly, it comes from a lot of places. Among the many sources of inspiration an example might be having observed a great color combination in nature on our daily walk and then feeling compelled to try to replicate it. Or it might be a piece of fabric stumbled upon in a fabric store, that nudges us to combine it with other fabrics and symbols for a new stole. Of course we also love visiting all different types of worship spaces as there is almost always something inspiring in the architecture, the liturgy or the message of the service. But last week you might have read on our Facebook page that we'd taken a field trip. This inspirational junket included a stop at our local art museum where Henri Matisse's The One Thousand and One Nights (seen below) was on display. 

The One Thousand and One Nights was created in 1950, when the artist was 81 and permanently confined to a wheelchair after complications from an intestinal operation severely weakened him. The artist was unable to sleep and found himself kept alive by his drive to create. This very large (5 1/2' x 12') beauty is inspirational to me because it tells a story with lines and shapes that seem so very carefree and expressive. It gives you a lot to think about through its simplicity. I appreciate that the color combinations and layers that are at times unique while breaking the rules of theory. Additionally if you examine the work closely you can see pencil lines and pin holes. Discovering the markings causes chills to run up and down my spine. It makes this man seem real as I grasp that Matisse had made a plan and then had felt it necessary to readjust. One lesson learned: we often think we know what the result needs to be in a project (art or otherwise) but we are wise to let the process transform the end result.  But what touches me the most is that Matisse felt the need to keep creating. He had been a painter but with his age and his ailments he had to reinvent how he created art. Paper and scissors allowed him this freedom of expression. This artwork is inspirational. It makes me want to design stoles that have bold flat shapes that tell a story. But inspiration and encouragement also come from the way the artist lived his life despite his challenges.