Archives for posts with tag: inspiration

tree trunks and dandelionsI think of Van Gogh primarily as a colourist, although his vivid colourful paintings were mostly painted in the last couple of years of his art career. His detailed descriptions of nature and his paintings can be found in his letters to Theo, his brother. Here he describes a landscape he painted at Arles in 1888:

A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees — a strip of blue sky.
If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful…A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.

And a beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer:

I took a walk along the seashore one night, on the deserted beach. It wasn’t cheerful, but not sad either, it was — beautiful.

The sky, a deep blue, was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than primary blue, an intense cobalt, and with others that were a lighter blue — like the blue whiteness of milky ways. Against the blue background stars twinkled, bright, greenish, white, light pink — brighter, more glittering, more like precious stones than at home — even in Paris. So it seems fair to talk about opals, emeralds, lapis, rubies, sapphires. The sea a very deep ultramarine — the beach a mauvish and pale reddish shade, it seemed to me — with bushes.

At Arles he painted the same subjects over and over — wheat fields, fruit trees, olive trees, flowers, cypresses. One of my favourite paintings from the show is an olive grove. The sky is a delightful pale green with orange, yellow and blue accents, and the ground lavender blue, orange, green and pale brown.

olive grove with 2 olive pickers

It’s hard to imagine how revolutionary these paintings were at the time. They influenced many painters including Matisse and the Fauves. His vision was unique and the bold and surprising way he used colour is still amazing.

Van Gogh and the seasons is at the NGV Melbourne until July 9.

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The cafe and shop building


I didn’t know what to expect but was told by a local to see the Teshima Museum. It is one of my favourite places I visited in Japan. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Seto inland sea are two white concrete dome structures. You follow a winding path and wait for your turn to enter. Finally you take off your shoes, put on slippers and walk into a large curved space with two round holes in the roof, open to the sky.

As you enter you notice pools and puddles of water on the floor. Drops of water seep out of tiny holes and join together, continually moving and merging. Long snake-like drops glide towards larger puddles. Small blobs grow larger until they start rolling along the floor and flowing into other blobs and becoming bigger puddles.

Being in the space is hypnotic and calming. You can see sky, clouds and trees through the roof openings. The museum is open to the air, sounds and natural light and when it rains, rain falls inside. I spent over an hour watching the water move and the light change.

The museum is a collaboration between artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa.

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Morning tea in the cafe

My response to the violent attacks on citizens in Paris, and the military strikes in Syria and racist warmongering rhetoric which seems to be drowning out truth and common sense, is the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr –

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

– and also to remember that the majority of people in the world are good and doing no harm to others.

With all the talk about terrorism and ‘ISIS’ in the media recently, my favourite astrologer posted about the goddess ‘Isis’ and this reminded me of my love of ancient egyptian art and mythology. [note that the terrorist organisation should be referred to as ‘Daesh’].

Isis the goddess is a timeless expression of the Divine Feminine, also known as Aphrodite, Hera and Artemis, and is devoted to empowering others. Read the full post by Mystic Medusa here.

These paintings are from 2011.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. Andy Warhol

I love this quote from one of my favourite artists. Lately I haven’t been doing any art, and I’ve been thinking about that elusive thing ‘inspiration’.

Pablo Picasso said, and I agree:

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

He was a very prolific artist, constantly drawing and painting, and I think this is a great artistic method. But what if you don’t ‘feel like’ doing art?

In my second year of art school I realised that some of my fellow students were too scared to actually start a painting. That blank canvas or sheet of paper is intimidating. And we rarely, if ever, make a painting that is as good as we imagine.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Sylvia Plath
We have to allow ourselves to make bad paintings, terrible drawings, stifle our inner critics, and keep going.

Sometimes, just going to the studio, ‘showing up’, and starting to play around with colour, scribbling something, flicking through books and images I’ve collected, will give me an idea for a painting. And sometimes I will just start painting without have a clear idea of where I’m going. This can lead to an unexpectedly good painting, and also to a shit painting that I’ll turn to the wall, to maybe paint over another day.

I believe Charles Baudelaire was right when he said Inspiration comes of working every day. Unfortunately, there’s no quick or magical solution to not being inspired. I think you just have to keep working.

And I love this quote from Banksy: Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a f**king sharp knife to it.

Postscript

I came across a wonderful commencement speech that talks about gaps in your resumé, fallow periods in creativity, and life not going according to plan.

How can we learn not to panic as future ministers or scholars or mothers when we are “not getting any work done” or when we lose direction altogether, when there is no plan, when the manuscript is delayed or the child is ill, when the love affair sours and there is no point in getting up, … Or when the sheer cruelty, racism, and blindness of the world can be kept at bay no longer, but storm our inner barriers, making normal productive life impossible? Yet in these … career detours, lie gestation and receptivity, what the Japanese call “hollowness” to the divine. In these nonproductive times, new things are hatching, being born in the darkness…

The full text is here.

I will show the worldUntitled (I will show the world how brilliant I am), 2014, David Shrigley

David Shrigley’s black humour is on display at NGV International until 1 March and I highly recommend the show for those who like a bit of absurdity in art. You will LOL (I did). His crude cartoon-y drawings comment on the everyday banality of modern life.

I particularly enjoyed the ‘general store’ and merchandise, including several wonderful books explaining his dystopian world view. Just reading the titles was amusing. Unfortunately, the tshirts were not for sale.

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I did, however, buy a postcard:

your artwork is terrible
© David Shrigley 2013

mona selfie warhol styleYou don’t know me, but I recently visited MONA for the first time.

Everything I’ve read and heard made me very curious to see this ‘maverick’ gambling millionaire’s folly/art extravanganza.

I spent Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday wandering around in awe (with breaks for food and drink, obvs) and I’m writing to offer my services to MONA. I’m an artist, graphic designer, proofreader/writer, and I’m convinced that working at MONA is my dream job! I’m happy to relocate to Hobart.

I feel we would get on well; the thing is most admire about you is the way you’ve got up the noses of the Art Establishment. Yay! I think art should be for the people, not the elite. And I agree that you don’t need a degree or specialist knowledge to appreciate art.

Love your work!

Yours sincerely
Keryn

p.s. I loved the Ultimate Suicide Machine.
p.s. I hated the poo machine. I know humans are sophisticated poo machines. But we also have souls. Some of us are looking at the stars…
egyptian tablet

infinite

lights installation

Lifesong 2010

Lifesong, 2010 (collagraph)

Charles Blackman (1928–) is regarded as one of the most important Australian figurative artists of the late 20th century. Stylised images of children, women, flowers, butterflies and cats recur in his work.

Blackman is a prolific artist and has produced hundreds of paintings, etchings, lithographs and drawings each year. In the 1950s he painted his famous schoolgirl series, followed by the Alice in Wonderland series. In 1951 Blackman married poet Barbara Patterson, who became his muse and inspired many of his works.

Always tea time 2001

Always tea time, 2001


Read the rest of this entry »

Watching the documentary Never Sorry about Ai Weiwei recently inspired me to write about this brave and provocative artist.

Ai Weiwei is Chinese, born in Beijing in 1957. He is an artist, designer, architect, political activist, sculptor, curator, publisher and blogger, described as a ‘cultural compass for an entire generation of Beijing artists’.

Ai Weiwei’s father was Chinese poet Ai Qing, who was denounced during the Cultural Revolution and in 1958 sent to a labour camp in Xinjiang with his wife and son. Ai Weiwei was one year old at the time and the family lived in Shihezi for 16 years and in 1975 returned to Beijing.

Weiwei studied at the Beijing Film Academy in the late 1970s, and from 1981 to 1993 he lived in the US, mostly in New York, making conceptual art and using readymade objects in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys.

In 1993 he returned to China when his father became ill, and asked him to come home to China.

In December 2008, he supported an investigation, started by another Chinese artist, into student casualties in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Because only schools were destroyed by the quake, questions were raised about the safety and construction of the buildings. A list of 5,385 children killed in the earthquake was compiled by April 2009, and Weiwei published the collected names, as well as articles documenting the investigation, on his blog, which was shut down by Chinese authorities in May 2009. The blog became a memorial for the dead, with the names of the victims scrolling in long lists, and later their names spoken in Chinese as a voiceover.

Weiwei also made a moving installation using children’s backpacks, shown at Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2009. Coloured backpacks spelled out in Chinese a quote from one of the bereaved mothers about her daughter killed in the earthquake: ‘She lived happily in this world for seven years’.

Remembering, Ai Weiwei, installation, 2009

The Chinese authorities were unhappy about this public exposure of the deaths of thousands of children, whose identity was supposed to be a secret.

Ai Weiwei was beaten by the police in August 2009 for testifying for Tan Zuoren, a fellow investigator of the shoddy construction and student casualties in the earthquake. Subsequently he suffered headaches and had difficulty concentrating on his work. In September 2009, he was diagnosed to be suffering internal bleeding and had to have emergency brain surgery. The cerebral hemorrhage is believed to be caused by the beating.

In April 2011, Weiwei was secretly detained by the police for 81 days at the Beijing Capital International Airport while on his way to board a flight to Hong Kong. He was released on bail on fabricated tax charges. Although the bail was lifted after a year, the authorities have not returned his passport and he remains prohibited from travelling outside China.

I admire and applaud his bravery in witnessing and exposing these events in his blog and art, and calling the Chinese regime to account.

I recently visited Lavandula lavender farm. It’s incredibly beautiful and there was a sculpture show on as a bonus. Sculptures from 25 artists, including Zoe Amor, Paul Turbitt, and Kaya Storm dotted the gardens.

My favourite sculpture in the show was by Peter Laszlo.

The soul is like a sail

This work was inspired by the Revelation of Ares.
In this book the Creator asks Humanity to change towards the Good.
The book explains that man is not born with a soul but has to create
one for himself. This can only be achieved by following the virtuous way
of life. One does to need to believe in any religion or dogma, simply
to love other human beings and respect all living things…
Once the soul has been created by a virtuous loving, giving and forgiving life it will glide along the sea of spiritual eternity.

The soul is a sail, Peter Lazlo

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And incidently, a good motto to live by!

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