About Inspiration

A few months back I signed up for a weekly portrait drawing group which had changed their practice from in-person to online due to the COVID situation. A weekly inspirational photo is sent to members and the portraiture begins. Participants send images of their pieces to the coordinator a few days later and they are shared by email and social media. I thought this was a fantastic way to maintain group practice and cohesion while we are all safely distanced. I was inspired to join!

A few months later and I had received all the emails and photos and yet I hadn’t participated. I wasn’t inspired.

Why? What is it that inspires me and what leaves me lacking? I wish I could say it was one thing or another but it’s… complicated. It’s about the subject and a spark of interest or recognition of familiarity they present to me. It’s also about what I’ve got already going in the studio that I want to maintain or complete. It’s about the stresses of work and life in general. It’s about my health and the way it wanes and waxes. And sometimes I think I will never be inspired again and will always have to push myself (or trick myself with a novel medium or challenge) to get work done. I did stop making art for 8 years at one point while I was back in Uni and building a career in IT.

And then it happens. It’s like my creative spirit needs to hibernate and gain strength but then jumps out of the cave like “Rrrrooooaaaarrrrr!” I’m back! That feeling of excitement and anticipation and hunger lit me up and I was already planning a strategy to get it done. Clear out my calendar, I’m gonna paint!

The photo of the week of Tommy Douglas and his face was begging to be expressed in a more animated way than a black and white staid photo (beautiful photo, just very traditional). I also liked that I knew my little brother could tell me more about Tommy Douglas than I already knew, what with his encyclopedic knowledge of everything Canadian.

Initially a monochromatic portrait came to mind because the photo is black and white. But when I sat down and painted, the palette expanded.

I’ve been working hard at landscape painting for the past year. That diligent work needed focus and dedication so I had not done a portrait for over a year. But I’d developed a process for practice which was working for me so I used it for this portrait; I find a subject of interest and prepare my tools to begin. Then I imagine what I’m looking for in this piece; how I want it to feel, look and say. With that in mind, I browse through the work of the artist who MOST inspires me, Richard Schmid.

And it keeps me on track. I know how I want to paint, what I want to express and Richard Schmid’s work reminds me of the level of professionalism that I am striving for. His work reminds me that I am working towards something, not just painting another painting. Because honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m just creating more work to put into the basement storage area. Even if some of my work is selling well, a lot of it goes into the bowels of mediocrity. C’est la vie.

With the Schmid inspiration process, I am striving to get to his level of quality work. It’s a DREAM and a very presumptive one. I’d rather aim high and eventually hit higher than I could have without that inspiration.

Blah blah blah. Enough words. More paint!

Later.

COVID-creations

Andrew and I were scheduled to have a 2-person show this summer. What with the COVID situation, the show was cancelled and yet… we still have all that work in our studio! I’ll show you what’s been happening on my side of the studio over the past year or so, below. Larger versions of this work can be found in Nature Work and Landscapes.

I’ve made progress on finding a surface that really works for me (Arches oil painting paper) and have started seeing a personal style develop. This is something most artists strive for and I’m very happy to see it and to push myself to keep on track with it.

All work is for sale (unless indicated). Please email Faye if you are interested.

Small Birds of BC – Series 1

View larger images in Nature Work.

Small Birds of BC – Series 2

View larger images in Nature Work.

The Mean One

Studio landscapes

A closer and more abstract view of the landscape and light we see in the forests here in BC. Working with colour and visual texture.
One of my favourites because of the contrasting light and balance of structural and organic details.

Falling into Place

Frosty roofs and thin crystalline ice on the ponds tell me winter has arrived here on the wet coast. As I walk through the woods to work I think to myself that I should be stopping to paint here where the mist is rising off tall golden grasses or take reference photos of the red shards of light from the low-sitting sun reflecting on tall, bare trees.

Our lives are finally finding a routine, a pattern, as we work our way out of the funk which the late spring brought. Friday morning sessions with the Al Frescoes plein air painters is one sure way to anchor that pattern to our passion for art. Another is my morning mediation routine which provides my brain and body a chance to let go and float into a more peaceful day.

My plein air work is still a fight. I’m working my way towards more abstract work. It’s taking more time and effort than I ever imagined. Though I am not complaining when it involves being outside in such beautiful surroundings.

Walking Into the Fall, plein air and studio oil on cradled panel, 8” x 24”