“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”


Have you ever heard that quote by Michelangelo? It’s one of my favorites. I think it is very relevant when thinking about inspiration.

In an earlier post a question was raised, where do you find inspiration?

My answer in a nutshell was stay alert to your surroundings. Don’t just look at them but actually see them.

When something captures your attention, photograph it, keep the ones you think have potential & store for later use on an art quilt or to jump start your creative juices.

Since then I’ve given a lot of thought to the question raised and also to my answer. The more I think about it, the more I feel my answer fell a little short.

I  mentioned some ideas that work for me & might be of use to some, but it didn’t go far enough.

Michelangelo said he saw the angel in the marble, he didn’t simply look at a pretty slab of marble and think that would be a nice to slab to use. I’m sure he could see any number of possible ways to utilize that marble, but I think he would have considered the characteristics of the marble and given thought to what would best suit it’s characteristics, what and where to chisel.

I think this quote reveals another element which is tied in with inspiration, understanding the basics of composition. It  can inspire us because we can see the potential for something beautiful.

It makes me think of a professional photographer looking into a room filled with a large group of people. An average person might step into it, point the camera and start snapping pictures indiscriminately here and there. The pictures are ok, nothing very exciting. Compare that to the approach of the  professional. He will give thought to the photos he takes. He will compose them with thought, catching special shots. Perhaps he might photograph a new mother holding her baby with a look of such love on her face, as she looks at her new little one.

Or he might focus in on two little 5 year olds, best girl friends. They are dressed up in cute little party dresses. As they walk around the room, they are holding hands & chattering away to each other. Although my examples may be a little unimaginative, my point is that the photographer is looking at the people in this room and composing photos that catch small little slices of life, that make an impact on us as we look at his work. He sees the room differently, alert to what is interesting, or touching or a scenario that we can relate to. That takes creativity to recognize these when he see them. But for us to understand what he is trying to convey takes thoughtful composition or we simply wouldn’t get the point.