Richard Bledsoe “Inspiration” acrylic on canvas 18″ x 24″
Usually when I go to make a painting I know what the image will be, although I don’t know how I will paint it.
As I’ve written before, ideas are presented to me constantly. When I start a new piece it’s just a matter of selecting the one that I intuitively sense is the correct one, the one I need to bring into being for reasons I may or may not understand consciously.
But as an intuitive artist it’s important to remain open to the unexpected. A piece I recently completed was not the one I had envisioned in advance.
I have in my mental catalog a piece entitled “Petrified Forest.” The details are unimportant, but among the main compositional elements I imagined were reddish tree trunks against a dark background.
I started working on this painting and slipped into the beautiful trance state that often comes upon me in the studio. It’s part of my dilemma as an artist. I tend to do my best work in a state of such preoccupation I can’t remember doing it. I step back to look at the painting and I’m surprised by what I see. At my best, I am acting as a conduit of something outside of myself.
This time I was really surprised. I had imagined red trees against darkness. So of course, my under painting had turned out as dark trees on a red background. But I saw something else too.
My under paintings are very rough. I just try to cover the whole canvas in paint and block in the major elements very crudely. The brush stokes are very visible during this phase because it’s just a base coat. In the brushy red marks on the canvas I saw suggested a wondrous thing, a most fantastic creature in dynamic action.
A new vision came upon me. This painting wasn’t “Petrified Forest” after all.
I made the beast black so everyone could see him, and launched him on his frantic sprint through the wilderness. The title became “Inspiration” because for me, this is what it’s like. This is the creative process I have experienced in my life.
I lingered over the completion of this painting. But ultimately there is nothing more inspiring that a deadline. When I was invited to to take part on the AZ45 exhibit hosted by Gail and Fred Tieken, I knew this was the piece I had to submit. I finally put the finishing touches on it and it was included in the show.
From the Tieken Gallery opening
As Billy Childish and Charles Thomson noted in their insightful Remoderism Manifesto, the art world is ripe for renewal, and for that renewal to take place, “…we uphold that it is essential to regain enthusiasm (from the Greek, en theos to be possessed by God).”
Enthusiasm is the source of inspiration, no matter what surprising forms it may appear in.
Now, I just have to get around to actually painting “Petrified Forest.”