Thursday, 3 March 2016

inspiration and ideas

I'm sharing here just a few thoughts - with some images by other artists who have inspired me over many years.

We live in a world where everyone is creative and has creative ambitions: or so it seems. 'Everyone is an artist'. Creativity can save us and shape us. It seems there are so many creative types in the world, artists are no longer a marginalized minority. Or is this really the case? Certainly these days in the western world more value is placed on individual creativity. And yet funding for arts in schools is being cut. It's all shifting... things will always be changing. I can focus on what I am doing today. I cannot predict - no-one can - how important creativity might be seen to be in the future. My hope is art won't become something purely material. Or has that happened? No. I resist that idea.

William Blake - Jacob's Ladder

I'm fortunate indeed to do work that I enjoy very much.  As a younger person I knew I did not fit with the main crowd and was attracted to artists and writers who were perhaps outsiders. I think of William Blake as a great-great-great grandfather to many of us who have felt marginalised (and at times mocked, or ignored). Blake was not the best (he was not a grand painter in the traditional sense) but he had a brilliant vision - a stubbornness some might say. He has come to be admired but it was different for him in the moment. I came to Blake's work through his poetry and then began my interest in his image-making. He was an industrious thinker, an individual.


Over recent years I have wanted to focus my work - I feel I am still making only tentative steps toward that goal. I know I am getting there, but it's a roundabout dance. There are things I won't want to let go of just yet. I can't tell you what I would do if I started now to be as focused as I would like to be. It needs time and I need to follow my own thread/dance.... to find that way forward.

Meanwhile I will only ever offer work for sale that I like and want to share. Making art can feel like a contrary business - but mostly is a very rewarding experience.

It helps me to read biographies of artists - of all and various kinds - to discover that in the past many hid/destroyed/disliked some of their work - just as many artists today hide/destroy/dislike.....So it is ok to question and evaluate.

A favourite artist is Keith Vaughan. (He was someone that, according to his biographers, often hoarded or painted over). I like his work because it combines land with figure, and for me it is quite English and Romantic. I can see connections to Blake in Vaughan's work. Yet at the same time I see more struggle. And perhaps I can relate to that also. His paintings were often large and expansive landscapes with figures inhabiting and dominating the composition. I can appreciate his work without wishing to emulate - I have no real desire to paint large, for example. I understand this is not a limitation, but how I relate to space. So I can admire the larger works of others without wanting to make big things myself.

There are days when I feel quite wobbly and question everything I do. This is healthy, I tell myself. It won't do to feel I am always on track.

When I am feeling unsure it is a good idea for me to quietly work in sketchbooks and perhaps work on my writing. It's not such a good idea to look back over old work. I need a break from my own image-making perhaps. We need a break from ourselves, from time to time....

Then I go and look at a big book of gentle paintings by someone I trust to keep me interested. Like Agnes Martin:


Always I've had my eye on difference and different. I'm never that bothered about what is most popular or currently trendy. I like what I like - and always have had an interest in things people in the past may have valued - from wonky old furniture to medicinal plants. I can say that being interested in lots of different things has made me less of an expert and more of an observer, with intermediate knowledge of this and that. This all helps though - or at least I make it work for me. Because I have a wide pool of interest to dip into and never am I bored. So, I consider myself less than brilliant but quite fortunate. It makes me smile to think of the different things I've been obsessed with over the years. Some of it I still like very much but not all.


 image: Pragmata gallery, Tokyo

I've had an interest in ceramics for many, many years. I'm particularly interested in Japanese and Japanese-influenced pots. I have a wonderful book by Jane Perryman titled Naked Clay - that is worth seeking out. I have a small collection of ceramics that I value greatly.

It's with gratitude that I look at the few pots I've made. Unfortunately, due to my own choices I let go of a kiln and the opportunity to perhaps pursue that road - the sticky, dusty, hot and sometimes frustrating but often beautiful world of clay. I treasure the few pots I have and enjoy them for all their imperfections. Meanwhile, I am returning again to painting bowls and cups - and see this as a way forward I want to pursue.... I find a calm and a centering in contemplating the simple container, the open shape, the still form....


I know the work of many different historical artists, and like art from a wide spectrum of ages. Styles and categories are ways to organise a gallery -  but my imagination is full of mingling images and ideas and there's no wide divisions. What I look at will help me understand the world, in small and big ways. So I would never want to narrow my interests too much.

Here's an image by just one more favourite artist: Vuillard.

Interior by Vuillard. I particularly enjoy his interiors, the way he uses shape and pattern, strong light and shade, the way figures merge and stand out, and appear both decorative yet fluid....

Writing these notes has helped me understand and appreciate all that I have been fortunate to learn about, over years. I hope you may find you are never lost for inspiration.


Beth said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts here, Cathy.

Beth said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts here, Cathy.

Unknown said...

Thank you. I've been off track, and I think that should end.