"Inside you there's an artist you don't know about. He's not interested in how things look different in moonlight." ~ Rumi
Where do you go to find inspiration?
My favorite place in the world (okay, my own little corner of the world) is called Art Village. I wandered in there one day a few years ago because it looked like a fun place. It was located in this old building on the downtown square with cool old moldings and exposed brick walls. It was filled with shelves of paint-your-own pottery and colorful tables and chairs. It was inhabited by sunny people who made me believe that I, too, could create art. I was hooked. So I signed up for a class.
That year for Mother's Day I gave my mom a handmade certificate for a "Mother-Daughter Summer Art Series." My hope was to do one art-inspired event per month through the summer. What else do you give the woman who gave you life and who has everything she needs? I thought that this gift of time and talent would be just what we needed to bond and express ourselves. After all, my mom had been an art major in college so she would appreciate this, right?
Part of the "MDSAS" was to take a day-long fused glass class at the local university. That was fun. And then we took a trip to Door County, WI for a little R&R and to see the musical Caberet at the outstanding Peninsula Players outdoor theater. So taking this one little class at Art Village seemed to be an awesome idea. Except it was titled "Oil Painting the Masters." I had never painted anything other than a wall and certainly not with oils. How hard could it be?
So we signed up for the six-week night class. We drove 40 minutes to the nearest Michael's to buy all the paints, palettes, brushes and other acoutrements necessary to embark on this Masters' journey. We came to the first night of class with great expectations. We set up our canvas on the easel, just like all those Master artists had done throughout time. Our teacher, Rainy Day Worzella, instructed us to look through the books provided to find a Master painter's art that inspired us. I chose a work by Van Gogh. Then she told us to paint it.
I suppose it should not have come as a surprise given the name of the class, but for someone who had never painted with less than a fuzzy yellow roller, truthfully, it was a bit daunting. Wouldn't it be easier if Rainy handed us a "paint by numbers" kit of Picasso or Monet or Renoir?
I stared at that blank white canvas. I didn't know where to begin. I watched as other painters around me just dove right in with abandon. Rainy was very kind to me and so very encouraging. Her philosophy is that art saves lives and that everyone is an artist. I did not believe. But I had paid for the class, and all the materials, so I was going to paint.
I squirted little blobs of oil paint on my palette. I started mixing the colors to mimic Van Gogh's palette. I loaded my brush with the acrid smelling paint. And then I just stood there. I was paralyzed with fear.
Did Vincent ever have this sort of hesitation? Did he ever not know what to paint or what color to mix or where to start on his canvas? Did he ever sketch his subjects, erasing where the lines weren't just so and second guessing his decisions? Umm...my guess is no. He just jumped in and let his brushes swirl and tap and stroke. He stopped thinking with his left brain and let the colors dance and play on his palette and then leap to the canvas. He painted with abandon. That is what I wanted.
So I closed my eyes and boldly swished the brush against the canvas.
I broke the spell of that blank white space, and you know what? It was a freeing moment for me. There was nothing that I could do to make that canvas any less, and more that I could do to make it even better. So I painted that scene and imagined myself in a French countryside as Van Gogh would have been. I found that it was fun to paint and make art and even to try to emulate someone as wonderful as a Master painter.
Rainy has always encouraged me and told me that I am an artist. I would respond by saying, no, I am merely someone who sees with an artistic eye, but I am not an artist. But Rainy wouldn't quit telling me that, and slowly, over time, I came to believe her. My chosen art may not be oil painting, but I am a better artist for having tried that medium. Today I am more willing than ever to explore other artful avenues when the opportunity arises. My newest passion is to create artist trading cards (ATCs). Rainy and I have a plan to share those with others as well and start our own ATC swaps right at Art Village. Stay tuned for more on that as it develops...
This past weekend I took my kids to Art Village to attend another class by Rainy. They have come to love playing at Art Village almost as much as I have. With Rainy's guidance, we studied the work of Master painter Georges Rouault. Then we got busy and attacked those paints with abandon and made our own portaits in his style. That day was special. All around us were artists of all ages and persuasion...young and old, men and women, boys and girls, potters and painters...an excited buzz surrounded all our busy-bee activities like a perfect beehive of artists. It was so cool to be surrounded by so much art and light and happiness.
Art Village is my favorite place to be. My little haven in a crazy world. My reminder that we are each artists in whatever makes our heart sing. And my own little reminder that I shouldn't hesitate, that I should just jump in and swish that brush on that blank canvas. I couldn't make it any worse, and I could always make it better.
Where do you find your culture of creativity? Is it a physical or metaphorical place? Are you alone or are you with others who share your passion? Do tell...I would love to hear all about it.
And while you're at it...Check It Out:: http://www.artvillageusa.com/
Enjoy the day!