Nina Leen, Young Teen, 1944
Lasar Segall, Youngster with Long Hair, 1942
Anita Malfatti, Montartre Song, 1926
Thuva-Lisa Steen, Self Portrait (photo)
Tongue out painting green dress, Rick Beerhorst, 2012
I spent an hour or so trolling through Flickr collecting favorites last night. I have shared a few of them here. Before I began this post I was clicking through someone's tumbler that I found totally captivating. I just kept coming to the end of the page and then I would hit next page and begin again. Oops! a half hour of my life just slipped away. Next page.
Julia Cameron calls it restocking the pond. As artists we are constantly drawing images and ideas out of our inner workings. It becomes necessary for us to find the playful ways that we can drop new images and ideas inside of us and then give them time and space to swim around and combine into new and mysterious possibilities. Wasting time? I prefer to think of it as restocking the pond.
Hope is a thing with feather woodblock print available here
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all. Emily Dickinson
I get tired like everyone else. Some times everything feels empty and extra hard just to do some of the simplest things. I know we all come through these tough passages from time to time, and some of us just crawl through a little slower and deeper than the rest. That's the way it is sometimes.
If you are in that hard place today when you read this I am here to remind you that this is not permanent. It will ease up again and those good feelings will return. Please do what you can today to treat yourself to some simple luxuries that may bring you some relief. I know for a fact that these dark times are doing an important work inside you, making you more beautiful, wise, and empathetic.
Inspiration is for amateurs- the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will - through work- bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great "art idea".
(I am not sure of the source of this quote but it may be Chuck Close.)
I took the day off yesterday and I really needed to have that day to let some of the dust settle. Do you ever feel like you have been burning the candle at both ends and you just feel worn out? You know those times when life is just carrying you along from one thing to the next and you don't necessarily like the places you keep ending up but your not sure what to do about it? This describes my life lately.
I think it may be the shift in the season taking us into cold weather that is stirring my hunger for introspection. I feel the need to reevaluate my life and my work these days. I think I have a fair amount of loose nuts and bolts that need a good tightening down and maybe even a front end alignment before I can hope to go much further.
What I am trying to describe also relates to what Julia Cameron (The Artist Way) refers to as "restocking the pond". The idea is that artists who go on and on creating content eventually come to a time when they begin to empty out. It is in those times that it becomes necessary to find ways to "restock your pond". This will be different for different people. Looking at art, reading books, tumbling through other peoples Flickr favorites and listening to music with headphones are all ways that help refresh my artist interior. It could be helpful to hear what you do?
new painting from "the tongue out series" 8x10 inches, oil on cradled panel
Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self conscious and anything self conscious is lousy. You cant try to do things. You simply must do things.
Painters don't reason, they do. The moment they reason they are lost ----- subconscious thought counts.
There is this sense that the artist is putting herself on the receiving end when she is making a work of art. It is as if she becomes the conduit that this mystery travels through. Thinking can really mess this up. It would be wrong to say that artists are not constantly making decisions - because they are, but these choices being made are coming in from a subconscious level. It is as if the painting is painting itself when it is done well. This is where the idea of the muse becomes important. The idea that we are visited in our studios by something outside ourselves - that is there to help us. It is not really just the artist anymore, but the artist and her muse together, that bring us this beautiful work.
Photo by Steve MacDonald of Schnables house in NYC
I look to Julian Schnable from time to time for a shot in the arm. I appreciate the freedom in his work as a painter and as a film maker. I am inspired by the way he has carried on courageously exploring life through his various creative pursuits. He has a kind of bigger than life swagger. Schnable will just keep knocking on doors until he finds one that will - not only open, but be big enough to get his next project get through.
If you have not already, check out his films; Basquiat, Before Night Falls, and Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
This post gives thanks to Hibiki Miyazaki who is a fellow artist I came upon through Flickr a few years back. Her image Women With Yarn became the inspiration for my painting shown here of daughters Rose and Pearl. I believe it helps an artist to keep looking at the work of other artists they admire. I think of it as a sort of conversation, a passing back and forth of ideas and inspiration.
In my Noah Webster 1828 dictionary it tells me inspiration is "the act of breathing into anything... the infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions by extraordinary or supernatural influence". When I look at work that I love it makes me want to go into the studio and begin working again. It is as if I have breathed in and I need to exhale.
(The eastlake love seat my girls are sitting on was purchased from a local junk store with a matching rocker for $150 two years ago. The springs are all shot and need to be redone but I have not gotten around to fixing it yet. Rose and Pearl shared a bedroom for the last two years until Rose moved out at the end of last September.)