From time to time this question comes up on the quiltart list, new art quilters want to know how or where us old timers get our images and our inspiration for creating a work from, below is my response.
I have 10 ring binders filled now with images and the like I've been collecting since I was in high school. I didn't realize what I was doing until I made it to art school in the 90's and my professor required that they be put into plastic sleeves and categorized. (this was a requirement for all of us)
What I learned about myself is I collect color and texture. I love macro shots and have lots of them. The more expensive decorating/home magazines are lush with color, if this is what trips your trigger that is.
Since the advent of the digital camera, and SLR cameras, in my life I've basically quit collecting images from other sources and now take thousands of my own. I've had a new digital camera since February and I've already taken 20,000+ images with it. I've been building my "own" visual library since 2001.
A suggestion I have for those collecting imagery is to make a 1 inch square view finder, we used an old manila folder, and place it down onto an image you like and then start moving it around. What do you see? Do you like it or not? What is it that speaks to you? IS it the texture, shape, voids, movement, etc.?
Most importantly get a digital camera and get out there and take your OWN photos, and do your OWN sketches. I don't want to hear that you can't draw, everyone can draw writing is drawing! Some just draw better than others.
More later from the studio - where I'm debating driving many miles to pick cherries today!!!