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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inspiration for All Artists

'Blue Highways'               5x7             pastel            ©Karen Margulis
painting available here $95
 An inspiring quote feeds the soul. Sometimes it comes at just the right time. Sometimes we just aren't ready for it. I like to give my class an art quote each week. I often will print them on small slips of paper so they can put them up on their easel. I didn't have a quote for this week. But I was confident something would come to me.

And it did. A wonderful quote from Mary Whyte fell out of a folder as I was cleaning the studio. It was just the right words I needed to read and share.  I strongly believe in what Mary says and it is a helpful reminder to all artists but especially we who paint from photos.

"Never undervalue your emotions. They are the force behind every great work. You must strive to paint ideas and beauty, not things. Merely copying objects will lead to work that is journalistic rather than poetic, and the results will be paintings that never stand out from the crowd. When you paint  throw your whole heart into the creation and watch what happens."
-Mary Whyte

dry underpainting on Uart 600
I painted today's painting from one of my photos but I drew on my experience and feelings more than I copied every bloom and blade of grass. I was transported back to the day I took the photo. I was on a road trip out west with my VIP friends. It was early morning and we decided to get off the interstate and follow along on the access road. It was a wise decision. Yes it took us a lot longer to get there but we saw so much beauty what we would have missed if we were going 80 mph. This field of blue wildflower was one of the spots of beauty on the blue highway.

Do you paint from your heart? Or do you let the reference photo get in your way?


robertsloan2art said...

Sometimes when I paint from the photo I find out that I've been painting from the heart. If I get lost in the process there comes a point the painting takes over and has to be what it is. Not all my decisions are conscious. If I have strong feelings about the subject, they come through whether I want them to or not.

Some subjects that are conventionally pretty carry a weight of grief or rage, some that are conventionally frightening become lyrical and beautiful because of the memories they represent to me. I recently painted a rattlesnake. I love nature and had a profound experience as a grade school kid on summer vacation trip coming close enough to touch one in the wild - at a moment the animal wasn't startled or afraid and was lazily crawling away. I sat still and watched, feeling lucky to see this. It was a moment of spiritual joy for me and I will never forget it.

That went into my painting and it scared the death out of almost everyone that saw it because of what the subject was. If I'm true to it, the viewer brings their own experience but their experience will be as intense as mine was. I'd honestly forgotten people fear snakes and rattlesnakes - yet it was scarier than if I'd just put up a photo of one. All the love I put into it came through as drama.

Hope Thompson said...

I have many good reference photos for paintings, but if the photo doesn't speak to my heart right from the start, then I don't use it to paint from. It might be a "pretty picture" and make a terrific painting, for someone else. If it doesn't speak to my heart, then I know my painting won't speak from my heart either.