Wherever I go, I am always finding inspiration for more paintings. Sometimes, I see something that looks perfect, snap a bunch of photographs, and then sigh with discouragement when the resulting images are a disappointment. That is just what happened when I visited family in Florida last year. The light dancing through the branches of some beautiful live oak trees caught my eye. I snapped away, taking pictures of the trees with Spanish moss dripping off of the branches. When I got home from the trip, and looked at the photographs, I wasn't moved at all. Rather than be discouraged, I just waded through other photographic possibilities.
I keep scads of resource photographs on my computer and my iPad. This has been a boon to finding inspiration when my imagination wanes. It is a good idea to have your photographic resource organized into folders that are labeled to make sense to you. I am not as organized as I would like to be, so I am going to give myself the challenge of doing just that this year. In the meantime, when I am looking for my next painting or series of paintings, I look at my resource. Something always catches my eye.
Having given up on the Spanish moss draping the branches of the live oak as a painting possibility, imagine my surprise when I was moved to make a painting of one of those photographs? I tried to talk myself out of it, thinking that my initial response must have been a correct one, but I couldn't let it go.
I have included the photo resource. I do not aim to replicated a photograph exactly. As you can see, I cropped, changed the proportions, and also changed the colors for the final piece as compared to the photograph. This is the result of listening to my gut and going for it.
Teaching painting has rewards, both tangible and intangible. I believe that my work has improved in no small part due to my teaching for almost eighteen years. Simply put, my students have asked me questions that make me truly think about everything that I make, from why I chose a certain color scheme, to why I have chosen a particular subject. Most importantly, many of my students have become cherished friends. So, I am grateful to those who have put their trust in me as a teacher.
Sometimes, I am given something tangible as a result of teaching. That happened last week, when one of my students handed me a small box. The box was in great shape, but clearly old. I opened it to find 6 almost pristine pastel sticks. I often joke that I am the Imelda Marcos of pastel. You may see a sampling of the pastels I have collected to use over the years below.
Although you can see that I have quite a collection of pastels, I had never seen anything like these Gunther Wagner babies. They were manufactured between 1900 and 1930, from what I can tell. Gunther Wagner was a chemist who started the Pelikan Ink Company. How the pastels came to the United States is a mystery. This is how they came to me:
The 92 year old aunt of my student's wife died this past year. In going through the aunt's things, getting ready to auction off most items, they found a box that apparently came from the desk of her father-in-law. The aunt just boxed everything up and brought it to her own house after both the father-in-law and mother-in-law passed away. As far as anyone could tell, the box had been untouched for MANY years. Items like these have basically no auction value but are too good to be thrown away. Therefore, my student thought that I would enjoy them. Well, what an understatement. I am thrilled to have these, and to share this experience. Here's a photo of the resurrected box, and its contents.
Art and Life. Here you will find out more about my life as an artist.