Do you have it? How do you get it? Where does it come from?
This week, I spent a great deal of time on this painting. I struggled with it for days, working and reworking different areas. While the painting came out technically good, for me, it fell flat:
In frustration, I gave up, put the painting aside, and was immediately inspired to paint something else.
This painting poured out of me like curse words from a sailor. It was painted all at once, and was inspired by plein air painting I did of a forest and photo I found of a runaway bride. It hit home for me, the disillusionment of a young bride, expectations and the lure of the wild and unknown.
The inspiration was instant and strong-like an urge I could not resist. Almost a craving to make this painting. It was done quickly and deftly, like I knew what I was doing. When I was done, I was dirty and breathless, and grinning.
I had to stop and think for a minute about why...was it the image, the meaning, the textures and marks? What was behind the inspiration? Was it that I was studying Sorolla and influenced by his work?
Inspiration is an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or visual art and other artistic endeavours. The concept has origins in both Hellenism and Hebraism. The Greeks believed that inspiration or "enthusiasm" came from the muses, as well as the gods Apollo and Dionysus.
I've long been inspired by Greek mythology and was immediately moved to make another painting in the same series; "Leta and the Swan" where the bride fell in love with someone totally inappropriate for her; Zeus in the guise of a swan. She was crushed when the swan left her for a more appropriate mate. She throws herself in the water in an Ophelia pose, while a dangerous predator slinks over to investigate.
Again, the painting flowed and was inspired-like I absolutely had to do it. I was almost late to class because I couldn't tear myself away from painting. I really don't know why I was so inspired to paint this bride and not as inspired to paint another subject. I can only say that sometimes inspiration seems divinely given.
I'm a big proponent of divine inspiration. I'm talking about listening to that small voice in your heart that tell you that you need to do this. To hear it, you have to be quiet and listen. This is very hard for modern people with our noses buried in our phones. When I hear it, it usually tells me to do something I normally wouldn't think to do. That's how I know it is not generated by me.
Here's the next piece in the Runaway Bride series; "Omen" which really is about listening to your inner guidance. I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Are you?
Each of us is different, and our inspiration will be different. My inspiration has always been about making a difference; making people think, changing the world for the better, even in small ways.
Your inspiration may take a different form. Julia Cameron in the "Artist's Way" which she cowrote with Mark Bryan, says "we all dip from the same well of creativity."
Deepak Chopra might describe it more like spirit moving through people in different ways. Some are good at math, some at cello, its all from the same source.
Creative inspiration is not necessary for painting or playing cello. You can do all things without feeling inspired to do so. Most of the work produced without inspiration shows a the lack-it looks like work. You can see the work I put into "Roseate Sunrise" but the pastels practically danced on the board for the runaway bride paintings.
When I feel inspired-regardless of the source, or what it is telling me to do, I do it! I've learned to listen to that little voice regardless or what it says. That little voice once told me to send a letter to the editor of the Times Record Herald in Middletown, NY. That letter was about the lack of sustainability articles to prepare people for climate change. That simple letter resulted in me having a syndicated newspaper column that was printed nationwide. I could not have foreseen this. It really wasn't my idea, but I was a willing accomplice.
Listen to your inner guidance. Even if it sounds crazy, and give it a chance. The more you do, the more that little voice speaks to you and the louder you hear it.