“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spiders web.”
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas
The theme for this month is: inspiration
Inspiration… breathing in. The very stuff of life. During this time of year, we go outside and one of the great joys is to breath in the sweet, warm, fragrant air! What pleasure there is in this simple act. We unfurl, like the ferns in the garden. Our senses are awakened after a long winter.
Inspiration can come in many forms, as Picasso says above, from ‘all over the place’. This reminds me of a story. I was working on my encaustic painting for the Death Perceptions show just about a year ago, and was really stuck. I didn’t know what would go in the area to the right of the pendulum. Days turned into weeks and – as this area represented the future, the unknown, the great mystery of death, I was stumped. I tried various things and they were all contrived and wrong, so I scraped them away. Then one day, much like today, I was out walking in the rainy woods and my eye lit upon a branch. Nothing special, a flat, ordinary, yet a beautiful and perfect branch. Immediately, I knew that was it! How did I know… not sure. Something about it spoke to me, inspired me, and it felt like a key turning in a lock. An AHA! moment. The branch spoke to the unknown, the various possibilities that are inherent in the mystery of what happens when we die. It spoke to me of the mystery of life. Sometimes we have have to wait, as I did, with faith that the inspiration will come. Sometimes we actively seek it out. As Grace Coddington says below, ‘Always keep your eyes open’.
So inspiration is closely connected to seeing. We need to be always looking, noticing what is around us, seeing the shape in the shadow, the beauty in the colour of the sky and the tracing of the branch in the forest against the snow. Open to possibility, we cast our net widely, and everything can be an inspiration. Or anything.
Truly, inspiration comes from dreams, conversations, glimpses from the corner of your eye… when we are ‘tuned in’ in this way, the world around us ‘offers itself to our imagination’ as Mary Oliver would say (from Wild Geese, my favourite poem of all time.) She goes on to say that it ‘calls to us, like the wild geese, harsh and exciting’. Yes, sometimes the inspiration is found in the shadows of our psyche, and it’s not something that we can control. We respond to what moves us, and to find this, we really need to be paying attention. This is why so many of us like to carry around a notebook or journal, so that we can write down that random comment, quote, etc. Our phones have become portable ‘inspiration gathering devices’, as it is easy these days to capture the light, image, quote or colour with the press of a button. If we notice closely, we will see a thread of connection between the seemingly unrelated elements. In that connection is the juicy beginning of a new piece, or a new series. I truly think that it is a magical confluence of synchronicity and awareness that inspires my creative practice.
Let’s talk about this! Looking forward to hearing what inspires you… please feel free to share your stories of inspiration with us here.
- What inspires you?
- Do you have a story to share about a time you were inspired? Tell us about it!
- Does what inspires you change over time?
- Is there a time during the process when your inspiration fades?
- If so, what do you do at that time?
- How is your breath connected to the process of painting?
Below are some more quotes to inspire you…
“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.” Leonardo Da Vinci
“Inspiration comes of working every day.” Charles Baudelaire
“You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Kafka
“Go where the silence is and say something.” Amy Goodman
“Always keep you eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” Grace Coddington
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Picasso
“Painting is dancing with chaos.” Melanie Circle
“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” Salvador Dali
“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp
“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-ming, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. ” Eckhart Tolle
“i am an Artist. i paint with my fingers, texture makes me happy, i love drippage…. building layers tells my story. i experience colour. i make mistakes beautiful. i see what others cannot. i live inspired. ” Donna Downey