Inspiration vs. Showing Up Everyday

The most common question asked of any artist is: What is your inspiration? I believe that lots of people use this as an icebreaker to begin a conversation about the art. My typical answer to this question is that I am inspired by many things around me: the landscape, nature, the seasons, the ocean, the energy of a big city and color. Although I am inspired many by things, I DO NOT RELY ON INSPIRATION to paint. I believe that the myth of artist's requiring inspiration has come from the media and those that don't paint.

The great artist Chuck Close has said "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work." I love this quote and believe it to be true. You absolutely DO NOT NEED inspiration to paint. Chuck Close provides an amazing example for all artists. Chuck cannot recognize faces, even those of his family. Early on he decided to paint portraits using small squarish sections, what we make think of as "pixels" to create portraits. He did this in hopes it would help him to recognize faces. Then, because of a health condition, became a quadriplegic. He has a special motorized easel that allows his canvases to slide up, down and sideways to allow him to access all parts of the painting surface from his wheelchair. He has a device he uses to lift his right arm to apply the paint. But he paints everyday! He goes to the studio and makes work. From the work come ideas for more work. And to think, some days I complain about a headache that keeps me from painting.

New ideas for true artists come through the PROCESS of painting - the more painting I do the more ideas I have for new work. Conflicts arise, solutions are proposed, contrast is developed, color combinations are strengthened, revelations are uncovered and discoveries are made - that is what painting is all about. The WORK creates ideas for more work, not inspiration. I believe inspiration is effective in providing ideas, but not enough ideas to sustain a successful artistic journey.

So the next time you are ready to paint, don't wait for inspiration, just get to the studio and start working!

If you would like more tips on being the painter you have always wanted to be, please join me for a workshop or join one of my online courses.