I am not a sketcher. I envy those that carry around those wonderful sketch books filled with drawing and thoughts. And I have tried that- but it is not me. I feel awkward sketching- and I really can't capture in lines what it is that I have in my brain.
I do look at the art on pinterest- not to copy something- but rather to inspire me. I feel like that is my digital sketchbook. Images imprint in my mind and I am never sure where they will end up. Just yesterday I was looking at the pinterest feed of a friend who is looking at women and veils. I follow her board. There was a photo on the board that just would not leave me alone. It was haunting, dramatic, and timely. That went up on my very small- soon to be much bigger bulletin board along with clippings from other images that I find interesting. Sometimes these clippings will stay on my wall for years- and sometimes I find their images working their way into my ideas much sooner. The photo of the women in hijab will come to life in some form sooner or later.
I guess this is what you would call my research phase.
Most of my work is informed by emotions- how I react to myself or to the world at large. So in addition to looking at images I am constantly reading. David and I get three newspapers and I have always thought that reading is critical to the creative process. And of course going through the front section of any newspaper in the last few years provides tons of fodder for good ideas.
But usually there is one event that will propel me to start a piece- whether it is something that has happened to a family member, an emotion I can not deal with, or a current event that has me fixated. That is usually when I can go into my sewing room and start a piece with ease. Without that fuel I end up making pretty things- like baby quilts or a crazy quilt- but they never see the light of day outside of my family. They are pretty but utilitarian and leave me emotionally cold- so I use them to keep me or a family member warm.