Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Art is Where Inspiration, Life, and Vision Intersect...

Elaine Weiner: A View from My Sketchbook...

      Inspiration is all around us and inside of us...

All That Jazz
Our goal as artists is to be aware and open to inspiration and new ideas in the first place. It can be about flipping an old and cherished idea on its side...and thinking "what if...?"  What do we make of inspiration when it hits? Where inspiration and our unique creative vision intersect and (perhaps most importantly) where we go from there...that is our decision to make.

Let's be honest: Changing direction (in life, art, etc.) takes courage and involves risk. We could 'fail.' And as artists, that could be public and private. What I have learned about myself is that what I fear more than failing is not trying, not doing, not continuing to learn and evolve. I believe that if we try something--regardless of the result on paper or canvas--then it was a success! The take-away should be that we have learned and grown. We should celebrate that movement forward in our creative journey. I believe that as artists, the most important thing we can do is to know ourselves and be honest with ourselves.... Most certainly, we need to be honest about what art and creating mean to us. It is about being 'self-aware.' From that, comes authenticity and a unique vision. An artist's work is a continuum and an evolution throughout their lives.

Recently, I have been looking for and rounding up my many sketchbooks -- some dating back to the 1990's. Some years, I did not do much of anything in them as life swept me in other directions; other years, I may have completed more than one book in a year’s time. These are my idea books. In them, I sketch, write about my art, reference other artists I need to research, quote teachers with whom I was privileged to paint, and capture some of my endless dreams or poetry or book ideas. Now, at the point where I am in my life, I can focus more time on my art and writing...even occasionally circling back to see 'where I was' in my head/art/life 10 or more years ago. Life is good and I have no regrets about any of the non-art time because life takes us in so many different directions. That is why each artist’s art path is as unique as is the individual creating the art. We need to embrace that.

As we live inside our busy lives, we artists sometimes have to put our art “on a shelf” as pressing life activities call us in other directions. Keeping the sketchbook journal (small enough to fit in my customary over-sized purses) has kept me centered and focused on my art, serving as constant affirmation that I remained on my art path as I lived my life, juggling work, motherhood, family, and home. It kept my heart/soul/mind focused on my target goal of making art an ever-larger part of my universe. It gave me hope and kept me on my course...even when time did not let me “get to the studio” -- other than the studio in my mind. I never had a dedicated studio space until about 8 years ago--before that, it was in the kitchen, on the coffee table, etc. Not having a studio does not mean we cannot create. We need to create with all that we are, where we are in life, with as much or as little art resources as are at our fingertips. That is what I call the ‘creative way’—the active art path.

Art, like life, is all about choices—choices and decisions, paths chosen and not chosen. Being an artist is one thing (passive). Choosing to do art is another (active). And choices mean risk…that is the way and the path for the artist. Seemingly innocuous or even “non-choices” become part of our life and our art, and these are often the conscious and unconscious roadmaps to our styles, palette, subject matter, and our art journey.

As with any journey, our life-long art journey involves many forks in the road where decisions have to be made.  Some decisions are intuitive; some are painful; some are quickly made; some are made for practical reasons; and some involve more time and introspection. 

Although I do not have early sketches handy, I do have the following—one sketch inspired from a model in a life drawing class in the 1980’s. 

Drawing is one example of how my life—from my early years to the present—links to my Art. Ever since I was a young artist, I loved to draw. (I was around 4 years old when I realized I loved art--a decision that made me 'different' from that moment on...) Mostly, I loved drawing women. Maybe it was because I was a female, for we artists frequently draw what we know--slices of (our) lifeIn the 1970’s, I often ‘sketched’ women in clay. Following are two of the few survivors from my college sculpture years.

In the mid-1990’s, when I had been into watercolors for a few years, I was sitting outside in Maine trying to concentrate on a watercolor demonstration en plein air. The instructor was trying to please some of the other artists by demonstrating how to paint flowers. I wanted to run away… Don’t get me wrong: I love flowers! I love the shapes, the colors, scents…and I love what they represent and how they color our world with sophisticated or bold, quiet, or brash beauty. Hand-picked wild flowers or greenhouse, tropical beauties… I love them all. What I didn’t want to do was paint them…at least not that day.

One Rose (oil)

You see, I painted flowers when I worked in oils in the 1980’s…(smile).

So, there I was, a frozen smile on my face, my sketchbook lying untouched on my lap as I tried to patiently watch the demo unfolding… when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that grabbed my attention, blew inspiration through my veins, and got my pencil flying! There, sitting on the lawn, with an old orange hunting hat by her side, was one of my fellow artists, watching the demo (apparently enthralled). I began furtively sketching her, abstracting shape and form, but focusing on the woman, the solitary. And voilà—my figure series was born! That summer was magical and I found my painting groove with my Woman With A Hat series. Inspiration and choices…where would art be without them?! “Sunstruck” was another one of my Women paintings created years later, but still inspired by that artist with a hat on that special day in Maine. 

   Please read my Facebook page (ElaineWeinerArt) for another interesting story about “Sunstruck.”

Following are some of my "Women in Focus" paintings created between 1999-2007. As you look at them, think about your own art, roots, interests, passions, and choices. As with my own art path, your journey and your art are uniquely yours to create! 

 Finally, as you move back into your own world and life today, I want to thank you for spending time with me reading my blog and viewing my art. I truly appreciate your support and your interest. 
 Yours in Art,
   Elaine Weiner