PAINTINGS: Inspiration


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.

az 45

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.”


40 thoughts on “PAINTINGS: Inspiration

  1. That is a great title for your painting. I’d love to use that image when I talk with writing students about inspiration. Really well done.

  2. This painting’s quite special. I like not only the glowing bright red background, but the way the ground is glowing on the right. It’s got quite a feel about it, very Surrealist in a way. Ah, I know what it is – the way some things are clear and others blurry works well to create a sense of three dimensional space, as if the creature is in focus, but the trees in front (some of them) are blurry because they are in front of the focal point.

  3. Good observations-I definitely use blurry/distinct elements as a means of definition. It actually mimics photography in a way although I am inventing the forms instead using a photographic reference. I think Francis Bacon gave me the idea.

  4. […] Art books are very important to me. Art is a continuum; what we are doing now in art right is part of an on-going story as old as humanity itself. I love to see what was done before, because real art is always remains relevant, no matter when or where it was made. I find it inspirational, plus exposing myself to all those pictures and ideas is crucial to the process I call “feeding the image bank.” I never know when what I see might trigger the visions so vital to my own work. […]

  5. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read through articles from other authors and use something from their sites. |

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