This was mulling around my head today. Inspiration. How does that happen? Way back in the stone ages of my creative life, 1988 to be exact, I opened up my first studio as a freelancer. While I kept up jobs as an illustrator, I really wanted to be a fine artist, creating work for myself. I was always stumped on what to make. 'Themes, themes. Galleries want themes. Thinkthinkthink...' I ended up painting and drawing all kinds of things, from my shoes, to myself, to pots and cups. I was bored out of my mind. I looked out the window one day, and lo, the lake! Eureka! I will paint Lake Erie! I gathered up my supplies and headed out with purpose, thrilled to have what I considered, 'A Theme'. I was fortunate that day. Putting myself before a huge body of water did more than one would expect. One would probably have expected me to furiously begin painting the scene. One would think. What did this little artist do? She stared at the water, as if for the first time. And not a mark was made.
Let me clarify. I grew up right on Lake Erie. I walked there all the time my first 12 years. The lake was nothing new to me. But that day, a layer was peeled away, and I was inspired by what was before me all along. New eyes were formed. I returned again and again, and eventually a body of work came out of it, which included my first sale as a fine artist.
Over the years, the same issue often came up. When you identify as a representational painter, subject matter becomes important, no lie. It can become quite a bucket of stress to have to come up with imagery that will not bore one to tears, be it the artist or the collector. When it occurred, I remembered that day at the lake, and the elation I felt when all the elements came together: the thought, the image, the result.
It is interesting for me to realize how my early years as a child, as an artist, still informs my work. Those small moments that can explode like time bombs of inspiration, start out so simply. Watching the waves, feeling bugs crawling on you...The breeze that was strong enough to reveal a thought passing by. All of it becomes so real when you begin to make that first stroke across the page.
Gathering up that flicker of light is usually the perfect way to start something new, and always begin again. The key, I've found, to an living an inspired life.