I have spent some time this week with some lovely art students and the question they needed an answer to was ‘How can I become an artist’ and ‘what do artists do all day!’
Well the following is the best way I can answer this question. I have this list pinned up in my studio and refer to it whenever I forget myself!
How to be an Artist
Stay loose Learn to watch snails Plant impossible gardens Invite someone dangerous to tea Make little signs that say ‘yes’ and post them all over your house Make lists, lists and more lists Make friends with freedom and uncertainty Don’t be scared to be you Look forward to your dreams Cry during movies Swing as high as you can on a swing Cultivate moods Do everything ‘for love’ and ‘with love’ Take lots of naps – for thinking and dreaming Give money away. Do it NOW. The money will follow Believe in magic and imagine you are magic Laugh a lot and giggle with children Celebrate every gorgeous moment Take moonbaths Read and draw (or doodle) every day Listen to old people Open up. Dive in. Be free. Bless yourself as you are blessed Drive away fear Entertain your inner child Get wet Hug trees Write love letters Talk to yourself SING everyday (especially by yourself) Believe the impossible is possible Care about everything you do Take long walks in the rain
Having been a painter all my life, the most difficult thing about creating a painting is finding the inspiration to make an original and inspired work of art. After all without inspiration an artist has nothing.
So as I walk with trepidation the relatively long distance from my kitchen where I make the brown nectar called coffee, to my studio where I am meant to make inspired works of art, a sickness enters my stomach. I know today is fortunately, a relatively rare day, where I feel uninspired and uncreative and wonder how any spontaneous arm movements might take place.
My studio, custom made to my very own design, with large high ceilings, big bright windows, overlooking the vast olive groves of Andalucia, has everything an artist needs to be inspired, or so you would think! Ha! Not today though and I open the door slowly, balancing my Iphone on top of my coffee cup and walk in. The smell of the oil paint mixed with the glazes and all the other products I have, hits my nose and I feel slightly comforted. I look around at all the many previously completed, ‘inspired’ paintings hanging from their wires and see some of the chaos left from yesterday’s attempt at creating a work of art. Had I lost it forever? I wondered, and sat down pensively drinking my coffee.
You see, inspiration doesn’t generally pop into one’s head, or at least not in my case, sometimes an active approach is required. I look towards the sea of olive trees and today I find even these annoying, so I finish my coffee and wonder for how much longer I can procrastinate. Perhaps the walk back to the kitchen for more coffee will help, and while I am there I can put some washing into the machine, feed Picasso (my cat), and check my emails. Yes, that’s what I shall do.
I return, with more coffee, but no more inspiration. I blame it on the planets, the time of the month, too much wine last night, anything except the truth. I can’t paint anymore! I finish my coffee and decide to go out for a walk.
As I meander down the old Roman track which leads from my cortijo, I can feel the cool breeze upon my arms and immediately wish I had brought a jacket, I also curse under my breath as my shoes are totally inadequate for the bumpy old track and dust and stones creep between my toes. I find my mind wandering about nonsense just as a hoopoe flies right in front of me and stops me in my tracks and I watch him fly by, an incredible bird, distinctive with its stripes and a characteristic undulating way of flying which is something like a giant butterfly. I stood stock still as he fluttered past at quite a speed and smiled at how beautiful he was noticing how blessed I always feel when I see a hoopoe. I continued down the windy path way and noticed little fruits appearing on the plum trees which line my track, knowing I would be able to pick them soon. I made a left turn just before the Roman bridge and headed down towards the river. The San Juan Rio is an amazing river and runs from a small local town called Castillo de Locubin continuing for miles, we are very fortunate that it virtually runs past our cortijo and I now consider it mine. I love spending time alone here by the water, watching it at different times of the year as it does different things, making different patterns in the flow, sometimes watching the fish jump out of the water, seeing little turtles swimming close to the bank, the black dragonflies flutter by and the different sounds of nature that can be heard. Today, though, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The water was higher than normal, the current flowing dangerously fast over the top of the small flat bridge, making it impossible to cross, the water splashing furiously about making white whirlpools and swirls as it thrashed around, fish jumping all over the place trying to swim upstream, the noise was deafening and I remembered we’d had a thunder storm a few days earlier which must have affected the flow of the river. I sat down on a large stone and realised in my dour mood as I left the studio I had no sketchbook or drawing implements with me. Still it didn’t matter; my mood lifting I virtually ran back to my studio and began to paint what I had just experienced.
Inspiration – what’s that ?
Article written for the Spanish County Life magazine