Sunday, March 13, 2016

"What inspires you?"

Studio work bench
Recently I have been fortunate to discover the informative blog of artist Nicholas Wilton.  His insight and compelling questions for artists are astoundingly clear and helpful.  A particular post sticks in my mind.  He advises that one of the imperative questions an artist can ask herself is "What inspires you?"

It makes sense when writing an artist statement, but I know his question has a much broader application. If I adopt the question in other areas of my life, I know it will be instructive to my art.

There are the obvious answers... Nature, with a capital N, for sure!  Since the age of 5 I loved being in the woods behind my house, all alone except for my imaginary animal friends.  Now well into my 60's, I have been hiking in the woods with two legged friends.  I've rediscovered the creative power in using fresh eyes to see large vines in calligraphic gestures amongst the trees, or the striking greens in patches of moss and lichen. 

I'm not certain if my attraction to weathered surfaces began when I visited Italy for the first time or if it was decades earlier with my appreciation of an old wooden wheelbarrow sunning itself on Mr. Mitchell's farm.  Metal, wood, cement, even faces, all age with such character that I can't help be fascinated by the marks of time.

Words inspire me.  Whether it is their specific combinations in a finely written paragraph or poem, or singled out for their particular inference that resonates with me, I have always been drawn to the shape, sound and power of words.

Bowls!  I love vessels in all forms, but especially bowls, holders of all kinds of tastes or thoughts.  Replete with the possibility of metaphors and mystery, bowls draw me like magnets in museums, galleries and in my kitchen.

Now, through some sort of osmosis, what nurtures, stimulates and inspires me shows up in my studio explorations. My personal response to nature, age, words and vessels allows me to transport them into my paintings.

Melancholy  30 x 30" oil on board

Acceptance  30 x 24" oil and mixed media on board

Continually acknowledging what inspires me not only makes me a satisfied participant in my life, but helps form my authentic artistic voice.

I could also ask the question "Who inspires you?"  And for that I would definitely include the name Nicholas Wilton.  His cogent writing and generous spirit of encouragement has in a short time had a substantial impact on me.


  1. Came over from Libby's blog I see you do not blog often, but hope you get this.
    I wanted you to know everything you have written here is excellent.It will help Libby with the questions she is asking on her latest post.

  2. Julie, thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting. For certain, I don't write on my blog often but I am grateful for your complimentary words. I have enjoyed my connection to Libby, whose blog has been so genuine and enjoyable. I look forward to yours now!