Post Four: Provocation or Inspiration

It’s morning this time. I’m in the studio prepping to get some work done.  The semester is over.  I start my thesis next semester and I’ll have my senior show in the spring.  With that I’ll have to come up with a cohesive body of work that is central to a theme.  Perry (my professor) says that there are two things that drive people to create: provocation and inspiration.  He is provoked into working.  Something pisses him off, irritates him, and drives him to create something out of that.  I don’t work like that.  Things don't piss me off, I’ve spent a lot of energy working on making sure things don't get to me.  So that leaves inspiration.

I didn't know what inspired me, and inspiration is definitely fleeting.  He organized a group trip to Washington D.C. with a number of art students.  We toured the museums and galleries.  As I walked through the National Gallery, I was ironically getting pissed off because none of the old masters were speaking to me.  I could appreciate the Dutch level of execution and the French expression, but nothing was resonating.  Until the National Portrait Gallery.  Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains by A. Bierstadt was on display.  From two hundred feet away at the end of a hallway it grabbed me.

I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but sitting in front of that painting for however long it was, fifteen minutes or an hour, was the most spiritual experience I have ever had.  It was so strong I was in tears.  I had found my inspiration.  He didn't use a reference, his paintings are entirely imagined.  No photo transcription could produce that level of emotion.  I had found what I had been searching for.

Now I sit in front of the largest painting I have ever attempted.  It spans an whole wall in my studio.  I hope my landscapes will speak to people the same way his spoke to me.


I have to paint now.