It is generally thought that artists are inspired, that they have to be inspired in order to create. To someone who has not gone through the process of creating a work of art, a painting is a mystery. How in the world did this artist come up with this idea? It seems to have arisen full-blown direct from the artist’s mind, zonk, right to the canvas.
It actually doesn’t happen that way. The work of art actually is created in a step-by-step manner, really two steps forward, two steps back, until it arrives at a conclusion. It is more of a voyage than a happening, as you shall see.
But just like the cosmos was created by the “big Bang,” an artwork needs a dynamic event to get the process started. That big bang is what we call inspiration.
Inspiration can come from many sources, and you never know when it will come knocking on your consciousness. Many people will tell you they get their best ideas in the shower, and that actually makes a lot of sense. When you’re standing in the shower, you’re usually in a pretty relaxed state and it makes sense that your mind is freed up to do some roaming.
You never know where inspiration will come from, and that’s the great thing about it. It comes to you, you don’t go to it………
I see an apple. It’s red and round and looks juicy. It attracts me visually. The sight of it also stimulates other senses. My stomach growls. My brain tells me I want it. Now I’m painting the apple. My eye perceives its redness. My eye wants that, I put down a blue ground which will make the subsequent red I come to look even more vivid. My eye feels its weight. My eye wants that. I draw a contour thinking of this weight and the force of gravity and the surface the apple sits on. My wanting makes me emphasize the heaviness at the bottom and the contact with the surface it sits on, I draw it so it feels grounded, pulled down to a resting place.
My eye feels its juiciness. My eye wants that. I put down some dry paint and then I layer the paint so it shines. The sight of it also stimulates other senses. I imagine the taste of the red juiciness. I mix a color that says tart and sweet and wet. My eye’s hunger has made me make that apple luscious and ready to eat.
What has happened here? The eye, the magician, has wanted this painting of the apple into being. I used my whole organism to do it, including my mind and feelings, but not consciously, not directly….
So how does someone become a great artist? She practices and practices and follows the leader, the eye. She’s got all the troops lined up and ready to go. She’s got the left brain, the right brain, the ears, the tongue, she’s got it all. She’s able to make an orchestrated attack on that apple, while you, the artist, watch in fascination as it comes to life on the canvas.
Trees are amazing. They are unbelievably expressive with feet planted in the ground and arms waving. Each one is unique. And they are everywhere available. Look at them wherever you go and see how they speak. Recognize what they are saying. If you want to draw them, please do, but listening to them and hearing their voices is the lesson here.
THE COLOR OF WATER
What is the color of water? Look at all the bodies of water in the world and see the color of the water. It is ever changing. It is always different. Of course, that is because of the ever-changing light. But the water makes this evident. Make the paint mixtures in your head whenever you look at it.
NO THOUGHT, JUST LUSCIOUS PAINT
With an empty mind, no picture in mind, just put some incredible juicy beautiful red on the canvas. Enjoy it. Look at it. Then put down something else, a line, a shape. Go with your gut. This is your only directive: YUMMY. Make an absolutely yummy painting if you can.
THE BEAUTY IN THE ORDINARY
In selecting subject matter for painting, we have a tendency to look for the flashy. Consciously select so-called second-rate or ordinary subjects. Instead of copper pots and vases of flowers, set up a still life with ordinary objects from your kitchen. Instead of painting a sunset, paint a rainy drab day. If you deliberately choose the commonplace, you will be amazed with how you can make it sing. You will find that you cannot compete with the glory of nature, and tackling grandiose subjects may make your own response seem pitiful in comparison. It’s easier to make an old pot beautiful than a sunset. Try both and you’ll see what I mean.
AND MUCH MORE MORE…..