Object Dar't

June 25, 2011

Tapping inspiration

massachusetts paintings

You always hear artist's refer to the "muse", this mythical embodiment of inspiration that encourages them to create. There is of course, no such thing. And it's a strange thing really; in the classes I tach, try as I might to explain to students the process of receiving and translating inspiration, it ever remains allusive. I can see my students look at me with their faces full of questions. I liken it to trying to describe to an infant "how to love." But I continue to try because it's important.

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Wachusett Mountain Ski Lodge in Princeton, MA

I think that being creative (the process of receiving inspiration and translating it) is something we ALL can do the same way we all have the capacity to love. But just like the people we see all around us, some have a greater capacity (and UNDERSTANDING) to love than others. It's my belief that this is only due to more experience - a willingness to love, love well and love often. So too with art. Inspiration and being artistic is simply a matter of practice to the point of being able to recognize inspiration when it comes and having the bravado to sit down with DO what that inspiration tells you.

So how do you recognize inspiration? For me, it's like an "aha" moment. I get excited about something I see or hear or even FEEL. My latest painting was actually a doodle I did in the morning of my hometown. For the past year, the love and passion I feel for the scenery and architecture around me has sustained me to the point that I now possess a literal body of work. I don't know how or why I come to love this place so much. I hated it growing up. But I've come to accept that the meaning has changed for me and I've embraced it unconditionally. The love I feel winds up being conveyed in whimsical ways such as a doodle that I want to turn into a T-shirt for my kids to wear on the 4th of July. It's a big to-do here in town and what better homage than a walking work of art?

My hometown is the geographical center of Massachusetts...hence the Central Tree

So, to begin to instruct you on how to tap your inspiration, I encourage you to simply start with what you love. We all have a personal theme - things we continually love to doodle or draw or collect images around us. And DO NOT judge (under any circumstances) what those themes contain. One of my students complained that she always draws butterflies and hearts. There isn't anything wrong with that! You should simply keep drawing hearts and butterflies until they become stylized. Perhaps you like to make the hearts long and thin. Using your personal theme allows you to develop your style in the form of play. Because you enjoy hearts and draw them often, you'll be more inclined to play with what you do to them because you aren't concerning yourself with whether it is perfect. So start playing around...begin to ALLOW inspiration to come to you. After awhile you will come to recognize inspiration because it can't be taught to you in words. It simply must be experienced. Now go doodle!