I spent the week in my studio trying to explore a new direction in my painting, and it was a struggle. But finally I felt I had some success, and was happy with the new results.
The studio, my photo, my painting
One of the questions I’m often asked is “Where do you get your inspiration? How do you decide what to paint?”
I can’t really explain it. I know I have a particular stroke and rhythm to my painting, and it seems to work well with the distinct rhythms of the natural world. I am always trying to interpret that flow and change of nature in my work. And I also love color.
But it can also come from a group of people engaged in conversation or an interaction of many individuals. I like to tell a story, or create a memory as I play with color and texture. Sometimes I’ll be out and a scene or visual will intrigue me and I want to explore it in art. I honestly am never quite sure where it will come from, and often I am thunderstruck.
Inspiration on my studio wall. Photos by me
I took a photo of this birds nest showing the wear of time outside my studio. I think there is art here somewhere.
But sometimes when I am trying to work out a new technique or direction, I look to other artists. Throughout the history of art, if you look at photos of artists’ studios, you will very often see images of other art on the wall, or laying on a table. Think of Van Gogh with Japanese prints. Or Degas with the Rembrandt etchings.
So I thought it might be interesting to look at what was open on my studio table as I struggled with this new painting.
From an art magazine, and an architectural page.
Joan Mitchell is a constant companion in my studio. The freedom of movement in her strokes has always inspired me.
One of my favorite artists, for his layering and interesting use of color, is Peter Doig. Sometimes I'll take color inspiration from another painting or source, but this was just a happy accident.
This particular painting started in a totally different direction and although I thought I knew where I wanted to go with it, it just wasn’t working. So I kept layering and changing and at times I thought it was trash. But somehow it morphed into something I loved, and now I have a whole series in my head to work on.
This started in a very different way.
This is fairly normal for me. The rich color underneath is hidden in layers of strokes.
A lot of the original color disappeared under new layers.
And then some of it went back in. This can go on for days. With much angst.
And then finally a breakthrough. Somehow I got so frustrated with the earlier direction, I painted these large bands of blue over it. Then I started adding strokes over it. The rhythm of the woods came in clear view.
Again, when I look around my studio as I get stuck, there are things that just jog something in my brain and I go back to work.
On my wall, a favorite David Hockney tear sheet from an art magazine.
A couple of postcards on my wall, a reminder of my visit to the Cy Twombly exhibit at the Tate Modern in London.
But somehow, it all goes in and gets mixed around, and in the end I hope it is something that is very personal and truly original.