Invoking the Muse

Did you ever hear the story of how J.K Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series? She says “I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head.”

Have you heard of that concept before? I was recently reading a story about Gloria Vanderbilt and she was discussing her writings. The New York Times reported: “Of the erotic novel, “Obsession,” she said: “That was so much fun. It was almost as if somebody else wrote it and it just sort of fell on the page.”

Gods, Angels and Muses

The ancient Greeks had an explanation for this, they felt that art and poetry came to use through the gods, or muses. Plato’s Phaedrus described it as the “noble effect of heaven sent madness”
In her book, Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert explains “In ancient Greece and ancient Rome people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then. People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity ‘Daemons’. Socrates famously believed that he had a Daemon who spoke to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea but they called that sort of disembodied spirit a ‘Genius’, which was great because the Romans did not actually think that a genius was a particularly clever individual, they believed that a genius was this sort of magical divine entity who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist’s studio … and who would come out and invisibly assist the artist with their work and who would shape the outcome of that work.”
and for those looking for a painter’s perspective Philip Guston said
“I go to my studio every day, because one day I may go and the Angel will be there. What if I don’t go and the Angel came?”

I get that feeling sometimes when I paint. In other words, that the power is not mine. I think that is why sometimes I, we, get insecure with our work. Because we don’t believe it is us who really created the art but some divine intervention. As a result, we worry we will never be able to invoke that muse again.


That is why I titled this painting Dante’s Daffodils

Dante conceives of the Muses as effective allegories of his poetic talent, a talent he perceives to be a gift of the Gods. He recognizes that his art is beyond his innate poetic talent and need divine inspiration. 

(disclaimer: I never actually read Dante’s Inferno. When I was a freshman in college, I was supposed to read it for my Freshman English class so I transferred into a different section of Freshman English just to avoid it. That may or may not have been a mistake.. but I did enjoy the Robert Frost we discussed in my class.)


Decorating Idea


Size: 18×24″ art has 1-1/2″ sides painted black. 
Medium: Mixed Media, acrylic collage and watercolor on canvas
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The gallery wrapped canvas is wired and ready to display on your wall without a frame. I’ve shown it here over a leather Pottery Barn couch but really, you can display the art anywhere that you desire a pop of color.
There is only one original painting of this art available at and once it’s gone…it’s gone. New collectors may take advantage of subscriber coupon. (see below)

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In Case We Haven’t Met Yet…

Art Journaling Inspirations →

Hello! I’m Miriam Schulman and I create mixed media art to tell stories. I also teach other people how to craft their stories with art. I give them the techniques they need to get the results they desire which brings more joy to their lives.

My art has been published by Somerset Studio, Art of Man and the New York Times among others and collected by an international audience. When I’m not working on art in my studio, you’ll find me in a museum spending time with friends or family. Explore my art at or join the fun at


Let’s Discuss!

Now I want to hear from you. – Where do you think ideas come from…talent, genius, divine wisdom, or magic?


3 thoughts on “Invoking the Muse”

  1. Rosella Flood
    Hello from melbourne Victoria Australia, have you ever heard about the lion, the witch and the wardrobe, what would you say if I had two rembrandt in my wardrobe,
    is what you call invoking the muses .
    ideas come from talent ,genius, divine wisdom or magic and my wardrobe at this time
    crazy as it sound they all work together in our rose garden in our backyard and my wardrobe.
    invoking the muses, people tell you invoking the muses, when, where, why, who, what,
    but they don’t tell you how to invoking the muses.
    Kind regards
    Rosella Flood melbourne victoria Australia.

  2. Hello from Australia approx half hour before we welcome 2019.I know exactly whst you mean with your painting, of one my friends has an idea so gets everything ready to start
    As soon as the brush touches the canvas she is in another world, she has produced some amazing works along with the spirit world.
    I must say that when I saw Dante’s Daffodils ad a title, I was intrigued. I have read his Inferno a few times.One of the nuns is a teacher moved to Aussie land a ling time ago. In Buddhism there is much talk of living & dying. She told us many years ago to google Inferno, saying if you want to know about hell, this will tell you She was definately correct !!!!!! So I was very surprised about Dante & Daffodils ! Reading the poem is not enough, one day I will email a couple of universities here, asking if there is a book written by someone who has studied the poem at length & published their findings.
    Re your Sunflower painting, there is normally acres & acres of them just north of here. Might go for a drive tomorrow to see if there is a succeßsful crop or the drought put an end to that.
    Kind Regards, Gayle Allen, Qld Australia

  3. I always pray before I start a painting. I pray for creative wisdom, and for God to bless my hands. I believe this is what puts a soul and meaning behind my work. I want the viewer to be touched by a Devine force, not just by my ability or skill as an artist.


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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