I’ve been intending to start a blog for some time. I am a passionate painter and watercolor is my medium of choice. Its my intention to start by thinking back over my career as an artist to see how I arrived here, both to reflect on my path and to share how I have wrestled with the challenges so many artists find along the way.
Recently I was asked by another artist “What inspires you?” I thought I’d start my blog by sharing the answer I gave her.
Careful looking inspires me.
Painting has given me permission to spend a long time looking carefully at how a flower or leaf is constructed. The same is true when I decide to consider a social or cultural issue. My art gives me permission to look a little closer and spend all the time I need contemplating.
I don’t know what I am going to find when I start a painting. For me it is always a process of discovery, whether I am contemplating how a poppy is constructed, how we learn to value certain things over others, or to examine the effects of global warming. I plant the question and then pursue it through a series of studies that lead to larger paintings layered with meaning.
I think art making is intellectual, spiritual, and emotional work. Art can help society see and feel things with new clarity, and provides opportunities to re-examine what we thought we knew.
While I do art about subjects that appeal to me or concern me personally, I have learned to trust that if I put the artworks out in the world they will find their audience. I have also learned that the paintings I have created that I was most afraid to share with the world were the ones that had the most impact on others. They were the most important works for me to share.
I’ve learned to recognize fear as a guide that lets me know when I am addressing a subject worth spending time with. These artworks are usually breaking some convention in art or exploring a subject I’ve been taught is taboo.
My subject matter has run the gamut from mythical self-portraits as Medusa, to works that celebrate women’s traditional arts, to nature and environmental subjects. In each series I had some element of doubt that I had to overcome to move forward.
I guess you could also say I’ve been inspired by fear, fear of telling my truths.
Fear based questions I asked that turned out to be important:
* Is it too beautiful, too decorative, too emotional?
* Is it too feminist, too political, too personal?
* Is watercolor an important enough medium? Are quilts and lace important enough subjects? Am I good enough?
I’ve learned to drop the ‘too’ and embrace the beautiful, decorative and emotional, the feminist, political, and personal, and to paint the subjects I’ve been drawn to with the medium I love. I have learned that my art making is not about the products but about the process of discovery. I have learned that only I can make my art, and that if I do it might inspire others to make theirs…too.