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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Finding Inspiration

Frederic Edwin, Niagara, 1857
There are days when I need something to help me feel inspired not just to do art but to remind me why we are alive.  One of my favorite places to go is to visit an art museum.  It doesn't have to  be a big museum. It doesn't have to be a famous museum, but it does have to have art.

I find inspiration in viewing the artwork of other artists.  It doesn't matter what level of skill they have--it can be beginner art or it can be the work of Masters.  I enjoy looking at the brushstrokes. I like trying to understand the process that was used.  Sometimes, I just like to sit back and look with appreciation.  I try to look with appreciation even when I don't "like" the artwork, the colors or the "message."
Juan Gris, Ace of Clubs and Four of Diamonds, 1912

I am inspired by the creative energy that is expended in the process of making artwork.  I am inspired by the tools and techniques. I am intrigued by different mediums than those that I use.  Since I usually use many different mediums, it is sometimes difficult for me to find mediums that I don't use. One medium I have never used is oil paint.  And art galleries are a sure ticket to finding some paintings made in oil paint.  I don't have the patience to wait for art to dry and oil paints take a long time to dry.

There is something that happens when I go to a gallery where I become very calm. I like the quiet hush of a public museum.  I like the sense of reverence for the creative works of others. I can't really explain it but if you have not ever gone to an art museum, I recommend you try to take the time to truly appreciate the artwork.  Suggested tips?

Juan Honore Fragonard, Diana and Endymion, 1753/1756

1.  Take your time.  Don't go if you don't have time to go slowly to enjoy the art.  I usually will look at a single art piece for a minimum of ten or twenty minutes. I read the information that is posted next to the art or that is listed with the gallery about the art.  I look at it and ask the same questions I ask my students when I take them to the gallery (see #2).

2.  Ask questions about the art.  There are often museum guards who know a lot about the art and are willing to answer questions so long as you don't distract them from their job.  There are also docents who do tours and have tons of information about the artist and the work on display.  But you can also ask questions and see what answers you come up with.  When I teach students at a gallery, I ask them questions like, "what is this artwork's story?"  "what mediums do you think the artist used? " "what techniques did the artist used?"  "why did the artist feel moved to make this art/what was the artist hoping to convey?"

Vincent van Gogh, Farmhouse in Provence, 1888

3. Don't worry if you don't see every piece in the gallery in a single visit.  In fact, if you don't, it gives you great reasons to go back often and reboot your focus.

I wish I could better convey the feeling I get from visiting an art gallery.  If you've never gone or you go rarely, give it a try and go with an open mind.

(c) 2017, SZing, Bohemian Art Cafe.  All Rights Reserved.  Photographs of artwork courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington DC  via Open Access.