Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Inspiration Of A Different Kind (Artist Appreciation Month)

I was recently made aware of Artist Appreciation Month. Have you heard of it? No/ Me either. After doing a little research, I found that the idea had been around for a few years but had not really taken off. Still, the idea had merit and felt like something worthwhile.

The idea is basically to discuss an artist that inspired you in your creative journey. It can be someone famous, someone local, a friend or a family member.

My Story
When I looked back at my own journey, I realized my catalyst to undertake an artistic life began with a visit to a craft fair when I was either 15 or 16 years old. Mind you, my sole reason for attending the event was because my mother told me I could drive if I went and since that was uppermost on mind in those days, you can bet I went! I liked crafts as well as the next female, but I mainly went because I was able to drive. (The priorities of a teenager!)

After arriving at the event, I quickly became bored and wandered off by myself rather than trailing around behind my mother. (Teenage angst showing.) In my wanderings, I came across an artist painting a macaw parrot with watercolors. The parrot was mostly finished as I recall, but what held me spellbound was watching her use green paint to "carve" a leaf out of a white background.

The artist was quite skilled at creating form and shape in one wash. (I learned this much later.) As I watched, she added lights and darks, lifted a bit of paint and suddenly, it looked like I could have reached over and picked that leaf up. It seemed so effortless!

I was instantly, completely captivated, a willing hostage to the magic she was creating.

After watching for several minutes, she engaged me in conversation and explained a little about what she was doing. I have no idea what paints she was using, what her palette looked like, how many pigments were on the palette, the type of brushes she used, the type of paper she was using or whether she had two buckets of water or just one.

All I knew was that I had been witness to something incredible and I wanted to create magic too!

She told me about some classes on the other side of town from me, but I was never able to locate them. I searched for again after I moved to that area, but I had no luck in finding her. I'm sad to say I had no clue what her name was nor did I ever locate her.

I wish I could.

When I walked out of that craft fair, I knew with unshakeable conviction that one day I'd be able to paint with watercolors. I can still see that leaf coming to life before my eyes when I look back at that memory over 30 years later!

The artist engaged me with her humor and willingness to share. She encouraged me to pursue my interest by telling me about the classes. But maybe best of all, she made it seem possible that I too could one day create art.

There were no discussions about how hard watercolor is to learn or how long it takes or anything negative. She didn't put up any obstacles nor did she set herself on a pedestal to be admired by the little people. Instead, she showed me her joy in a simple pleasure.

It took another decade and a few more cataclysmic events before I became serious about the pursuit of my art. I'd always dabbled in crafts, but I believe the idea that I could actually making a living with art, be an artist (gasp!), was planted that day.

If I could sit down and talk with her today, I would thank her for sharing her joy, for demonstrating the simple pleasure of painting without apology for how good or how bad the work was. I would thank her for encouragement to take classes and for planting the seeds that have brought me to where I am today.
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There's plenty of negativity out on the web these days. The political arena is heating up with all kinds all balderdash, so how about joining me in sharing your story about an artist or artists that inspired you on your creative journey? If you do, please leave a link in the comments as I would love to read your inspiration.

8 comments:

  1. Wonderful story! My story is too long to post here, but it is a good idea for a blog post!

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  2. Hey, Katie, if you post your story, please leave me a link here in the comments so I can find it! I'd love to read it.

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  3. Hi Laure. When I was 15 or 16 as well, a french painter named Albert L'Heureux came to our house in California to paint a landscape on the wall to complement my dad's train layout. I was transfixed. I asked Albert what I should do to become a painter. He said do this: and he showed me how to draw parallel lines as a graphic artist would for practice. I did it for years, just drew the lines. I began taking art classes in Jr. College. I was interested in illustration, and since the art departments were all into abstract expressionism at the time.... I got my degree in Biology so I could illustrate all of my papers. At 50 I finally got the desired art degree at the U of Utah. Meanwhile, I did any type of art I could get my hands on. I have had some inspiring teachers at the U. Dave Dornan, Tony Smith, Paul Davis, John Erickson, Maureen O'Hare-Ure, to name some. I love your work Laure, also love Richard Schmid, and many deceased artists.

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    1. And I bet you can still "see" how that artist painted parts of that landscape in your mind, can't you?! Wow, I applaud you for persevering and getting your degree. I went back about 10 years ago to get my art degree and wouldn't you know they didn't have a mentorship suited from someone with a watercolor specialty and it wasn't long before I derailed. What great teachers you've had as well. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. My mother dabbled a little with watercolor .... and that meant there were art supplies in the house. My high school didn't offer any art classes; but when I was a high schooler my mother signed up for an adult ed art class and got permission for me to go too. Wow! Glen Vlerick was talented and touched a cord in me. Art become something to do for fun. Later in college I took one art class and was too stupid to realize the University had to offer better classes than that one! Gads! We expressed ourselves by drawing pieces of a junked car. Oh how I wish I'd taken other classes. As an adult I finally did get to attend a couple of wonderful workshops taught by Jack and Jessica Hines and Robert Batemen. Bateman particularly inspired me.

    And once I was paid a precious compliment. I was attending an art show and a young man came up and let me know how a simple workshop I'd taught while he was in grade school had influenced him! He was so impressed at how I made eyes look alive ... and he had continued with his art ever since. That made my heart sing.

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    1. We had craft supplies and my mother sewed all the time, so I had exposure to sewing (and can sew quite well), but no one painted. I can see how that would really influence you from an early age. And color me green with envy on the Bateman workshop!!

      As for the precious compliment, you must have been floating for days! What a true gift you have, Elva, because you still continue to inspire today's artists (read that as "me" though there are many others) with your blog. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  5. Thank you, Laure, for inspiring me to explore sketching and watercolor. I love your blog because you inspire others to create and you share how you are inspired.

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  6. Dear Laure - I think that artist that inspired you started a ripple effect because you my friend inspire so many other now. Your can do spirit and passion for art always encourages so many. Isn't it amazing how the "butterfly affect" is found in every aspect of life. Take care and thanks for sharing your story. I so enjoyed reading how you got your start. Hugs!

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