I am an artist. I have been inspired by many artists, but today my inspiration came from my surroundings. Beauty is my currency. It fills me up. I gulp in the blue skies. I love gazing at the clouds. The sky, for me, is the beauty my eyes have been scanning more and more. I am happy to report that the skies are clear, there's no rain in sight.
As I walked through Fredrick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park today, I was struck by its beauty and thoughtfulness. I enjoyed seeing all the different sculptures intermixed with beautiful nature. Each one inspired different interaction. I was transported to a new place as I enjoyed the well thought out Japanese Garden area. I felt like a child again. Wide-eyed and full. Full of wonder and curiosity as I took in new sights. Full of energy.
I am visiting Grand Rapids.....home of Art Prize. The welcome sign read "Pure Michigan" and I have not been disappointed. The fields. The sky. The cool air. The kind and friendly people.
I wonder how I can take this beauty into my studio? How will it inspire me? What shall I do with all the new visual memories I am making? Only time will tell. I once had a professor in college express this same sentiment...it is hard to know how your experiences will affect your art. You must let it germinate. Sometimes I think I know, but really the evolving and the influences are more subtle than I realize. I write things down as they come. And I scratch my thumbnails (small composition based drawing sketches.) This does help me think through ideas, but my paintings that come to life are more than drawings with paint. I believe that the history behind each piece is important. The first layer informs the next layer and eventually it is part of the history that needs to stay preserved, untouched. This experience leads to the finished piece. This journey that I am describing is something I must work at. I work to keep the dialog going. I work to show up. I work against the fear that it isn't going to be "the best" because not all are. Some are the awkward learning pieces that potentially get painted over in another season, once I have learned what needed to be learned.
I paint to see. I learn about myself as I paint. Painting is my out loud for all to see processing. This carries the potential for a lot of embarrassment, but I’m willing to risk the embarrassment, in order to learn and grow. I want to test my limits. I want to try new things. I want to perfect old ways as they resurface. I especially love revisiting an idea that I stopped short, not plunging the depths- whether it is a brushstroke, a story, a color, or a color scheme. I am curious by nature. This can get me in trouble at times, but with art it is one of my biggest strengths. The power of curiosity. The wonder.
I also love being the co-pilot with my best friend. And road trips are good for me, with free reign to talk. Nothing else to do but pass the time. Often this is when discoveries happen and this trip has been no different. I discovered that I have a slight block with smaller oil paintings. I struggle to get the same consistency of satisfaction with them. My "small barrier" seems to be 2'x2' and under. As soon as I go up to a 3'x3', I seem to hit a sweet spot. My most recent piece, my first work intended only for a public space, was large (8'x9' together, but with spacing 8'x19'). Making it has been invigorating. The scale itself was inspiring. I am encouraged to explore more public works..... This is definitely appealing to me. I am not sure if it is all the murals I have completed or my love for the presentation and installation of work, but I've realized large work seems to breed a deep satisfaction in me.
I remember my drawing class in college. It was not a typical drawing class. It wasn't just works on paper tacked to the critique wall. The word "drawing" was used loosely. This class was about discovery. It was about delving deeper into the thing I wanted to explore more. Mine happened to be obsessive patterning. It was so helpful to try this in all different ways. Though miniatures. With wire. By carving a pumpkin. I even had the opportunity to display Gatorade bottles in a bucket of ice. I'm thankful for what I learned and how I grew through that process.
All that I have created. All the classes I have sat through. The good and bad critiques. Sales. Rejection and acceptance letters. These have made me. But so did moving out. And graduating college. Moving home. Meeting the man of my dreams. Getting married. Having babies. Enduring emotional and physical pain. Making friends and loosing friends. These experiences, this process, the successes and failures all together, make up my history. They’ve formed my depth as a person and as an artist.
Whether you are on the hilltop or in a valley. Take it one day at a time. One step at a time. It will be lovely when all the sudden you discover you are at a vantage point with a better view. So gaze up at the sky and gulp it in. Be inspired. Soak in any beauty you can find. And let it affect you.