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Inspiration by Shawn Dell Joyce

Many realist painters do not have to look far for inspiration, others work from inspired series (figures in the landscape, sunsets, trees, etc) other creative folks wait for the elusive and effervescent sensation of Inspiration.

You know when it hits...your pulse races, your mind tingles and you just HAVE to paint or you will die! Some artists have likened the feeling of inspiration to the feeling of lust or sexual attraction. It's so overwhelming to the senses that nothing else matters at that moment. Just making that painting.

If you haven't felt that way about your art yet-look forward to it! The more you paint, the more you will feel it. I feel it constantly, and about many more creative endeavors than just painting-but usually as series of paintings, the way light wraps around a shape, or even just a simple concept like overthrowing the patriarchy. :)

Sometimes inspiration strikes me in the form of an idea that comes to me unbidden and wholly complete. For example; last summer I was hiking in the Catskills and painting at sites the Hudson River School painted. A series of short stories came to me, complete, and out-of-the blue. I didn't ask for them, and have no idea why they came to me.

Some of you may know that I am a writer as well as a painter. I used to be a syndicated newspaper columnist and wrote "Sustainable Living" for more than 50 newspapers across the country. Since then, I've written many articles for magazines, and in my early years, short fiction. I've been published many times under many names.

I didn't expect this to happen! My art is really taking off! I have a solo show coming up, a big workshop this summer, and my head is in the game. Now, inspiration has struck for this series of short stories and I know better than to ignore it.

Inspiration is fickle. Ideas come to you wanting you to birth them into our culture. They are not patient. If you have an idea, and you do not act upon it, it will move on to someone else more likely to bring it to fruition. This is why you see so many of your previous ideas being made by other people. It's not that you failed, it's more that they were ready and the idea needed to happen.

If you take your ideas seriously, they lead you to unexpected places and opportunities. I got my newspaper column because I took inspiration seriously and complained to newspapers that there was not enough being written about climate change in the 1990's so they all challenged me to write about it. I did, starting working with Al Gore, and the rest is history.

Ideas need to know that you will follow through. If you don't, they will leave you for another who will. I know this, and so when an idea comes to me, I grab it with both hands and pull it from the world of ideas into reality. That being said, I am now half-way through the idea of the three short stories about the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River School.

Over the next few weeks I'll be competing professionally in plein air events like Shadows on the Teche in New Iberia, and St. Augustine in Florida, and won't have time to write my blog. I'm going to share what I have of these stories with you so that the idea doesn't leave me. It will be a while before I will finish these short stories, and I want to keep them fresh and fun. I also want to hear what you think about the story, the character and even your own unique inspirations.

Look for my blog next week called "Baby in a Tree" and let me know what you think of the first half of my story. Remember that inspiration is often out of our control. These ideas are things with a life of their own, and come to us much like symbiotic creatures looking for a ride to the real world. I encourage you to be the one to provide it. Let me know what stories you have of inspiration.

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