Henri Matisse, Le Chat Aux Poissons Rouges 1914, (The Cat With Red Fishes)
…August…vacation…back to school…seeking to escape heat….
For most, we are seriously seeking inspiration.
What moves, propels, encourages, excites, helps you develop and sharpen senses? What awakens, kindles, invigorates, amuses and delights? This can be a tall order, but sometimes, if you can find even ONE of the above in your art practice, you have found a treasure.
WHERE I Go
I find wisdom when I turn to Scripture to start my day. Inspiration is often like kind words spoken. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 You may be familiar with Grace Noll Crowell’s lovely 1950 poem inspired by that verse:
Oh, to speak so fitly
That my words my be
Like bright golden apples
On a silver tree!
Oh, to write so wisely
That some hungering one
May reach and pluck that fruitage
Shining in the sun!
Beautiful craftsmanship, elegant carving, music and poetry are all praised in scripture. Inspiration is often like kind words spoken to your soul.
My mother's autographed copy - from poet best friend, Esther York Burkholder
Lately, I like to read a bit of poetry—especially by some of my local friends. Noreen Lawlor’ poetry is filled with wisdom and often humor. Poet Cynthia Anderson, acclaimed for her perceptive reflections about nature, teamed up with watercolorist Susan Abbott in Now Voyager.
Even my Facebook and Instagram feeds are fill with artists, writers, dancers, musicians and more.
I know the visual artists whose work generally makes me want to get out my paintbrushes...Matisse, Picasso, Redon, and many contemporary artists. Hover to see artists and titles. You can see I draw inspiration from many sources.
To WHOM do you turn for inspiration to pursue the creative process?
I am grateful to meet regularly with a group of women painters to discuss art trends, review each other’s new work, encourage and occasionally exhibit together. I wish I had a photo of our last very animated gathering.
Finding your GENES
Were certain relatives in your family tree especially inspirational? Did you have grandfather who danced? A great aunt who recited poetry or inspired you in some way? Find out more about their legacy. Imagine how excited they might be to share their artform with you!
I could not resist: my grandfather, whom I never met, in a production of Firebird during high school I have always loved modern dance.
Setting the SCENE
Consider which time of day inspiration most often visits you. If it’s not your “creative” season, pretend it is—seek autumn colors and poetry, find winter glow in candles and cool colors…you get the idea!
Create a gathering to share —host a coffee or meet in an inspiring setting. Attend a concert or play. Visit an art gallery. Invite friends to play musical instruments, paint, write random poetry ~ so many options
Finding the WORDS
…from philosophy, painting and theater….
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul”
George Bernard Shaw
You know who are your muses and encouragers? Seek them out! Gather with them. Drink in inspiration as you would a cool summer thirst-quencher.
And most important…encouragement and inspiration are generated when you give it back. Encourage other artists. Even if it just means giving a child a crayon and paper!
Janis Commentz - Sketchbook in Monet's Garden at Giverny, France
As we approach summer, what will entice you to read a blog?
As my favorite season approaches, I think of mornings spent journaling and reading on our backyard porch swing. I think of mornings and afternoons painting on the patio. To me, forever bound to the traditional academic calendar, summer tempts me with the colors, tastes, and textures of lemon meringue pie and sweet juicy watermelon!
If you are a painter, these colors are just as tempting pouring out of the tube! I am ready to set up a table of summer delights and begin painting!
Janis Commentz - Sunflowers-acrylic on canvas
As summer approaches, what nurtures your creative practice? Healthy foods strengthen our bodies, and sunlight and water support healthy growth for living things. Another crucial element for creative growth is respect.
Recently, partly due to an overlong winter, I have noted a bit of grumpiness, belittling and inconsideration creeping into creative events in which I am participating. It’s baffling at times. How are we to react?
In all areas of life, we flourish when we have the respect of those around us. As I Google “respect and creativity” I find a gold mine of ideas. Respect is vital in healthy day-to-day experiences. When we set out to create and develop our talents, we are seeking joy and purpose! Not all of our endeavors can be as smooth as lemon meringue pie or as tasty as watermelon, but respect certainly helps cultivate creativity.
I know I, too, can get caught up in critical behavior. Let me make a few suggestions for the art community, using the acronym R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
R eview and redirect our own behavior. Compliment before complaining! Avoid joining in the whining and criticism.
E mpathy -all artists young and old need encouragement and consideration. We teach this to our young. Are we considerate when encountering an artform very different from our own? Do we support those who are learning new skills? Recently, I bought a piano keyboard recently, and it’s a great reminder of my lack of skill. I am delighted with my very baby steps!
S pirit and Support – An individual’s spirit can be easily crushed. While direction and guidance may be given, kindness is crucial! We grow hardened to heartless behavior, but we don’t expect it from our art community
Pay attention and pay it forward! Listen and speak a few kind words when we see someone suffering from harsh remarks. We talk a lot about bullying, and some of our leaders are not modeling the best behavior. Help make your art community an encouraging environment!
E tiquette-an old fashioned word for good manners. Let’s hope they never go out of style!
C reativity flourishes in a respectful environment. Artists deserve dignity. We all are a little wary when someone is watching over our back—but the difference between callous criticism and loving kindness is like night and day!
T houghtfulness-Creativity is a thoughtful procedure. Nurture your own creative forces and those around you in a laboratory, greenhouse, conservatory or studio that boosts creativity. Take your Vitamin R (Respect-no chemical or app intended) Respect yourself! Respect Others! Respect your surroundings!
Sunlit Jasmine Poolside Lavender Fields
Note: As our lives have been shaken by COVID 19, I invite you to check into my blog for encouragement and creative activities. Be well. May God keep you safe.
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