Inspiration and Where to Find it:
Inspiration: what is it? The word derives from inspiritus, or to breathe new life into. Spiritus is spirit. From these Latin words, we get inspire and inspiration.
According to Webster’s inspiration is: a divine influence or action on a person held to qualify him to receive and communicate sacred revelation. The archaic meaning of inspire is to breathe or blow into or upon; to infuse (as life) by breathing. Early on in the creation process, according to Genesis, God breathed life into us as humans to bring us into being.
Inspiration for the artist:
How does an artist get inspired? As a landscape painter, I can’t help but be inspired by the scenes around me in Montana. From one end of the state to the other, going across the state, a distance of 554 miles, we have great variety. At first, I loved only the mountainous western section, but the longer I live here, I find the land forms of the eastern side to be equally as breathtaking and interesting. The north to south distance is 321 miles.There are flat, wheat growing areas, hilly grassland, rolling hills and badlands.
Things that inspire me often have to do with dramatic light. Early morning, evening or when storms create “spotlights” on a particular feature of the landscape. For an artist who paints “plein air”, having a viewfinder is a handy, portable tool. It limits the panorama to a view that the artist can handle.
When one feels “dry”: memories, sketches, cropping photos, or even looking at photos upside down help inspire. Painting the same subject three times or more, each with a different goal in mind, leads to better painting. In each successive painting, change the color scheme, composition, or focus on a particular detail. . The Art Spirit by Robert Henri has been a reference since my first classes in drawing and painting. He said to art students is: “Use the ability you already have, and use it, and use it, and make it develop itself.” That is a very freeing idea for any artist who is hesitant, lacking in confidence or feeling overwhelmed by the talents of others. I would also recommend artists who feel “blocked” to read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.