Sunday, January 16, 2011

Finding my own muse or how do I find inspiration?

Okay, I am now declaring war on all air borne particles that are entering my body and making me sick.  I have been sick in bed more in the first two weeks of this month and for parts of December, than I should be.  I take care of myself for the most part.  Dress warmly. Try to eat healthy meals. Get fresh air when I'm able to go out.  I will not give in to these "bugs" that are invading my body and will maintain as much a normal life as I can.  That means painting and writing must go on and so they shall.  Despite having to go back to bed a few times to rest, I managed to paint four paintings today.  Two are 16" x 20" and the other two are 4" squares.  That is a pretty fair day considering I was feeling so rough.

Anyone who really knows me knows me knows that I love the look of trees whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter, a tree holds a special place in my heart. I focus my year on the cycle of trees.  Right now, the tree limbs are bare, bereft of leaves, and maybe have small accumulations of snow on their branches along with some icicles hanging down.  On a sunny day, this makes for a wonderful picture and I am quite sure that I will attempt to put this idea down on canvas very soon.  Little by little, the days grow longer and before you know it, you see the trees starting to come back to life.  Sprouts of a tender green are making their appearance and letting us know that spring has arrived, finally, and not a moment too soon.  The sprouts lead to blooms and or leaves bringing rebirth of nature and all its beauty back to our world.  We embrace the warmer days, we are no longer in such a hurry to run to the shops, head down against the wind, not seeing our neighbours as we pass by each other.  Summer finally arrives and all the trees are in full form, beautiful, each in their own way.  The birds are making nests in them, squirrels are running up and down the trunks playing their little games.  You see, by following the cycle of the trees, you follow the cycle of the year and what it brings to our lovely trees.  By autumn, the greens are starting to fade and are over taken by crimsons, oranges, yellows, ochres and such.  Fruit is ready to be picked and the branches are heavy with the weight of all this abundance.  The life cycle of trees could be compared to the life cycle of our lives, but I am going to leave that there and let you make your own analogies. 

Last year, I took a ten week painting course with the subject to be painted being trees.  I was overjoyed at the thought of getting out to meet other people who also saw beauty in trees.  One week, the instructor would provide us with a photo reference, the next week we would find our own.  The instructor was extremely patient, working with all of us, one on one, and in groups.  I tried so very hard to capture what I saw in the pictures, the colours, the feelings, the scene as it was shown.  But, I forgot one thing.  We all see things differently.  Whether it is the composition of the painting, the colours, the textures, whatever, duplicating brush stroke for brush stroke, the end result is our own version of how we each perceived the paintings.  I felt heart broken at first when I saw that my pictures were so much less than the other students' pieces.  But, after a while, I realized that even if I were painting en plein air, my paintings of the scenes would still never match colour for colour, leaf for leaf.  I would still be painting my version of the scene because that was how the scene looked in my mind.  The instructor told me that I needed to be patient, that the other ladies had been painting for a very long time and that I was truly developing a style - primitive.  I was not so certain that I liked that designation, but I accepted it and learned to work with it.

Monet has always been one of my favourite artists.  The colours, the scenes, the layout of the scene were all perfect on his canvases, at least in my eyes.  Then I read how he had painted with cataracts for a long time and eventually had surgery on one eye.  While it did give him more vision, you can still see the progression of his paintings going from when his vision was fine right on to the very end when scenes were still painted and painted well, but were less in focus than his previous work.  I worked on one of his pictures in class and I just could not wrap my mind around two colours on the paint brush at the same time being dabbed onto the canvas, much less the amount of texture that could be produced.  I was amazed at the instructor's demonstration and tried with all my heart to copy the sample as much as possible.  The double load of colour on the brush confused me and I felt like a fool.  I finished out the course feeling that although I had learned a lot about painting, I still could not paint the way that I had hoped to. 

So, Saturday night, famous for my courage, I thought I would try a Monet-like painting, but without the photo reference.  I looked at a clear stamp of a tree to give me the idea for the general layout of the bit and pieces that make up a tree.  I used a larger canvas than usual - 16" X 20", which is as large as I was willing to go with my test run.  I also used two 4" square canvases to do smaller paintings on, thinking that this might turn out to be a nice set.  But, I found that by not having Monet's painting beside me to look at, I was free to use the colours I had seen, but in my own way so that what was produced was not a copy of one of Monet's paintings, it was truly one of my own creations done in the style of Monet. 

The paintings I did Saturday night went together fairly quickly for some reason.  I was thinking of someone when I painted these particular scenes.  I usually mentally dedicate my pictures to someone as I am working on them.  It makes them more personal to me, it makes me strive to do a better job.  Once in a while, I will tell someone that a particular painting was done with them in mind, but usually, I keep it to myself and in a little notebook that I keep with notes, colours used, sizes of canvas and any other notes that were pertinent to me when I was involved with one particular painting or as you see now, four paintings done that are similar, but have their differences.  I will not say who was in my thoughts when I was painting the Saturday night paintings, but I will tell you this, it certainly was not Monet! 

I will hang these with great happiness today, along with the three from earlier this week.  These six seven paintings seem to be a turning point in what I am painting.  The colours go down easily, I do not agonize over what to paint, how to paint it or what will people think.  I think that maybe now I have the confidence and the will to finish up a few paintings that are languishing about the flat.  It seems so sad to see half finished paintings.  It is almost as if they are forgotten children and no one cares about them anymore.  I care!  I hear you calling out to me to finish you and make you whole.  I have found out the secret on how to help myself paint in my authentic style - paint what I like and be thinking of someone at the same time.  I have to wonder if the person that I was thinking of was someone who had caused me a lot of personal grief if the painting would show that in its final stages.  I think it would, but to test out my theory, I am going to try that little experiment soon.  I have a feeling that I may end up with a painting or series of paintings that are somewhat ominous in nature, not happy, bright, and cheerful.  I will show you the results when they are done as well as the forlorn, forgotten paintings that need to be finished.  I am eager to get back to the easel and kitchen table to pull out more canvas and start making some magic happen.  Hmmm  I never thought of myself as a magician before, but maybe that is what an artist truly is when you think about it.  They put their heart and soul into a painting and show it to others hoping that their audience will sense the artist's feelings and what the painting is about.  For the audience to perceive all of the subtleties of the piece of art, there has to be a great leap of faith on the artist's part and a little magic must take place for the audience to link up with the artist's thoughts.  Karma in real time, who knew?

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

P.S.  I hope you like these paintings.  As always, I am interested in what you have to say about the post or the artwork.  Please do not hesitate to send in a comment.  Each and every one is looked at and posted for all to read and there will generally be a comment from me answering any questions, or making any clarifications as necessary.  Have a great week everyone!  Try to work in a little time to work on something personal just for the joy of it.  You never know, you just might find yourself addicted to a new hobby and broaden your group of friends.  It could happen!

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