Inspiration Needed? Check Here:

One of the greatest things about art and artists is the sheer diversity of both. While there is no shortage of “social media” negatives, one of the big positives, at least for me, is the opportunity to view art and converse with artists from all over the world. If you are the least bit like me, you may scroll through a multitude of painting images and all of a sudden one of them practically knocks you off your feet. For whatever reasons, we “connect” and want to know more about the work and the artist. That is kind of a magical thing really, because it is more often than not, inexplicable. The images/artists posted here reflect those personal experiences for me. I suppose you could consider it my own “Best of Show” gallery.  I may also post appropriate quotes or notes of interest about that particular artist. If the artist is living, I always make an effort to ask for their permission to use the image in a post, and I will always reference their website at the very least.

I occasionally come across other inspirational resources that may not be directly related to painting or visual fine art in general. I enjoy sharing some of these with my workshop participants and this seems a good venue to post these images or links. I have found that all (or most) art or creative endeavors share similar processes, especially as to how experience and share motivational energy. Maybe a few of these will also be powerful for you, but it might be even better to start your own collection to draw from when you are feeling the need to gain a new perspective or just re-charge your batteries.

Ocean Park 24 / Richard Deibenkorn

Ocean Park 24 / Richard Deibenkorn

“In a successful painting everything is integral, all the parts belong to the whole. If you remove an aspect or element you are removing its wholeness.” Richard Diebenkorn / Ocean Park 24

Foggy Morning Maine / Thomas Schaller

Foggy Morning Maine / Thomas Schaller

A masterful watercolor!

Foggy Morning – Maine (Owl’s Head Harbor)Thomas W Schaller – Watercolor.
18×24 inches – 11 Nov. 2015 / image used with permission from Tom.

Cheng Khee Chee Koi Demo

Cheng Khee Chee demo of Koi using saturated wet process (middle stage of painting)

I have had the fortunate opportunity two study with Cheng Khee Chee on two occasions. My first opportunity to closely observe his “shape-lifting” process from a saturated abstracted background is something I will always remember. I finally understood that timing (patience) and observation were as critical as any of the other components we study and obsess over.

Joe Miller Artist and Motivational Master

Joe Miller – Artist and Motivational Master

I suppose it is humanly possible to become a successful artist without being greatly influenced and encouraged by others along the way, but I’m not sure I could ever fully embrace this belief. And, who would want THAT kind of success?  Learning to paint is tough.  It is easy to cash in your chips, and shove all of those supplies in a closet until you can pawn them off on some future niece or nephew that shows artistic promise. This man has literally helped thousands of people hang in there through the early phases of the learning curve. He does so with humor, compassion and with a little “reality therapy” thrown in to the mix.  He also helps them acquire great supplies, which is no small part of the equation. This is my favorite photo of Joe Miller, my #1 teacher, mentor and friend.

George Bellows National Gallery image

George Bellows Exhibition at The National Gallery, September 2012 / painting “The Big Dory”

On a lengthy flight Joe Miller and I got in to one of our deep discussions, and he made a remark that really stuck with me: “No matter how hard we try, it seems our egos always get involved with our art life in some way or another”. Sometimes I get a little full of myself. Maybe I have pulled a pretty decent painting out of one I thought destined for the scrap bin, or perhaps I start reflecting on my “body of work” and begin to feel a bigger than healthy sense of accomplishment. A sure fire remedy for the big head is to go visit a historic gallery during a major exhibition. I had the opportunity to see the George Bellows exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. in 2012. I pulled the following notes from my journal, and reflect on this experience of viewing emotionally intense, massive oil paintings in room after room of the Gallery. A sure-fire dose of humility comes from time committed to such an exhibit; the work of a rare and prolific master artist. I left very inspired, but also felt that the only thing we really had in common was a shared middle name (Wesley).

“The George Bellows exhibit was mind blowing for me. Mostly familiar with his grim early 1900’s boxing club paintings, I was amazed at the design, color and the large scale of his body of work. What he accomplished by his death at age 42 from appendicitis (in 1925) was amazing. I left needing to learn a lot more about George Bellows over the coming years, and I guess that is what art museums are all about. A side note: In 2005 Bill Gates purchased Bellow’s 1910 “Polo Club” for $27.5 million. Also, a big reminder that photos and digital images of paintings are not paintings (a finger pointing at the moon, is not the moon). We must see the real thing to fully appreciate art and the artist!”

Geoffrey Gorman / Red Fox

Geoffrey Gorman / Red Fox

I discovered the work of artist Geoffrey Gorman in a gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona a few years back. His animal sculptures are created from natural materials, discarded metal, manmade material scraps, and found objects fascinated me on a number of levels. They seem to embody the spirit of the animal with great sensitivity, they are very unique as art objects, and they would appear to be fun (though challenging I am sure) to create. He is a great observer of animals and the natural world, and also draws inspiration from writings and poetry, which he often posts along with images of one of his works. I hope to be able to take a workshop with him at some point down the road. Here is a poem by Mary Oliver that Geoffrey posted along with this image:

I found a dead fox

I found a dead fox
beside the gravel road,
curled inside the big
iron wheel
of an old tractor
that has been standing,
for years,
in the vines at the edge
of the road.
I don’t know
what happened to it –
when it came there
or why it lay down
for good, settling
its narrow chin
on the rusted rim
of the iron wheel
to look out
over the fields,
and that way died –
but I know
this: its posture –
of looking,
to the last possible moment,
back into the world –
made me want
to sing something
joyous and tender
about foxes.
But what happened is this –
when I began,
when I crawled in
through the honeysuckle
and lay down
curling my long spine
inside that cold wheel,
and touched the dead fox,
and looked out
into the wide fields,
the fox
There was only myself
and the world,
and it was I
who was leaving.
And what could I sing
Oh, beautiful world!
I just lay there
and looked at it.
And then it grew dark.
That day was done with.
And then the stars stepped forth
and held up their appointed
fires –
those hot, hard
watchmen of the night.

by mary oliver

(image and info posted with the permission of Geoffrey Gorman)

David Bowie Audi Ad 1990's

“Never mind the stares – If I’m going to do something that could be provocative or artistically relevant, I have to be prepared to put myself in a place where I feel unsafe, not completely in control. I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about. There is no progress without failure. And each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience’s taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation”. David Bowie (1947-2016) R.I.P & Thanks for the great music.

I began listening to David Bowie around age 15 (1973!). He enabled me to understand the important conceptual relationship between the “artist persona” and the creative results, whether it be manifested in music, painting or any number of other mediums. He also demonstrated that art transcends gender, and for me this promoted an open-mindedness toward others regardless of my perceived levels of their masculinity or femininity. Looking back, I think this was a unique perspective for a teenage southern male to have at the time. I have referred to this passage in my workshops for many years now. I think it emphasizes the importance of a developing artist to be willing to confront fear, fail in their efforts, and to never submit to prioritizing the pleasing of others over the weight of being self-fulfilled by your efforts.