“What’s your inspiration?”

anglesea river reflections

Did you just get a little bit of sick in your mouth too?

“What inspires you to be an artist?” – feels like such a pretentious and cringe-worthy question when said out loud don’t you think? We have to put blame on the “art establishment” for placing so much emphasis on this question, but more importantly how pretentiously it is so often responded to. Artists statements are typically a boring, self-involved, and unrelatable statement written for other artists and not the public or potential collectors.

Have you been to an exhibition in a gallery, and read an artist’s statement? If so, you’ll know what I mean. Artist statements consist of a long winded babble about inspiration and influence, generally written after the creation of the work, with no focus on the intended audience, or the result the artist has attempted to deliver.

As much as questions around “inspiration” make me cringe, they form a critical aspect of becoming a successful and credible artist. Being an artist isn’t relaxing or cruisey, it’s hard work. You need to be self-motivated, driven and consistent to have any chance of producing art that will warrant anyone stopping to look at. Let alone parting with their hard earned money, to purchase.

wyn snakes in the studio

Wyn, smashing out a few snake in charcoal on paper in the studio. Inspired by fascination and a small dose of fear I’d suggest.

The journey, even though highly rewarding and life enriching, of an artist,  is a difficult and arduous path to tread, you’d better be inspired by something!

That something needs to be strong enough to drive you through the challenges that being an artist presents. I’m not talking about the challenging financial path associated with being an artist, but that of self-doubt, discipline and artistic and creative skill development. The persistence and commitment to continue on whilst encountering the necessary failures required to reach any glimmer of mastery. It is the challenge and in a way the reward all in one. If you love climbing mountains, it’s like climbing a mountain that never ends, and the view just keeps getting better the higher you climb.

All artist have a story to tell or a passion to share. One they feel is important enough to dedicate a large part of their life to expressing.

Trite artist statements add little value to the experience of art, compared to an open and honest conversation with the creator of a piece of art you have an immediate, emotional connection with. You “feel” art, more than any other response. Of course, there is art investment, the art market and secondary sales that catch the media’s attention, but we are talking about inspiration here and more importantly the connection between artist and their audience.

Ok, so what inspires me? (time to get some skin in the game!)

I paint the landscape and the sea, in a representational manner, which means, it kind of looks like what it actually looks like. There’s always a level of interpretation and emphasis applied. That’s one of the key separators between representational painting and photography, I’m making decisions and choices throughout the entire process and producing a visual representation of a subject.

The visual response, that is an artwork, exists as a document that in essence, helps to conserve a physical place and time. By capturing the atmosphere and presence of the landscape, or subject.

morning light on trees

Morning light on neighborhood trees, near home.

The places I paint are fragile and special and constantly under the influence, if not the threat of human intervention or degradation. I think they are worth conserving, in paint and in reality.

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