Learn about what/who inspires us in the next post in our series of staff blogs at Main Street Arts. We hope that this series will give a little insight into who we are, our backgrounds, and our interests. This will be an ongoing feature that will continue throughout the duration of our closure due to COVID-19.
At my previous job, I would find myself looking for inspiration daily. One site I always spent the most time with, and still check out regularly, is www.thisiscolossal.com. It is a showcase of visual work and spotlights artists from many different disciplines. Sometimes there are history-related articles, sometimes just one artist’s work, short animations, paintings, sculpture — it really encompasses a lot!
I follow several artists/designers on Instagram that are doing work that inspires me:
Christoph Niemann (@abstractsunday) frequently incorporates everyday objects into his drawings/sketches. They are really clever, fun, and thoughtful, and cause me to pause when I see items sitting on a blank sheet of paper. What could I make out of that?
I’ve been following Pejac (@pejac_art) for a while but in the past few months he has been encouraging people to do “Stay Art Home” pieces and then sharing their work in his stories. It’s been really fun to see what people from across the world are making in this style.
You’ll probably recognize the work of Edel Rodriguez (@edelrodriguez) as his work is widely known and been featured on several Time magazine covers. He posts to Instagram often and I find his work inspiring because he can distill down controversial topics into succinct political statements using simple shapes and bold color. He makes it look effortless.
Lastly, James Victore (@jamesvictore) is a designer I’ve been following for quite some time. I definitely don’t have his visual approach to design and I think that’s what inspires me when I see his work. There’s a genuine honesty to it and it captures something that I find difficult to capture in my own work/life.
I continually find inspiration by observing the natural world around me. There are so many things to learn by just being somewhere and looking up or down. I find such rich source material in the changes in weather, the shifting of seasons, the time when day turns to night, shadows on a house or a road. These things all find a place to rest in my brain and are subconsciously recalled when I am in the studio.
Often I feel uninspired, just as most people do. It can seem pointless to do anything, let alone make paintings. But then I go for a walk and see something unexpected, or I let the dogs out at night and take in the darkness, or Sarah and I go on a hike and I see undulating roots sticking out of a hill side.
I don’t necessarily care about any of these images specifically but just the fact that they exist in the world, even if nobody is there to see them. It makes me feel like art is worth making.
I keep a journal in my studio and even though I only wrote one entry in 2019, it is an important thing for me to keep going. I have renewed my commitment to writing each time I paint. It helps to be able to look back and chart my thoughts as they relate to my work and my life.
From my studio journal, 1/19/13:
“When you need visual stimulation or inspiration, just look at the clouds, trees, and the natural world in general. I have had some stumbling blocks this past week. The current painting feels disjointed and forced. Many areas are beautiful but they do not work together. The cloudy, windy, stormy skies today reminded me what to do. Paintings exist in the world around us. I need more seamless transitions in this painting…”
So, when I’m looking for inspiration, I usually find it outside. And most of the time, it finds me instead of the other way around.
Lately I’ve been very busy creating with my children. I walk around buzzing with creative energy. I’ve been making mini dolls, wood doll houses and dyeing fabric.
Salley Mavor is my inspiration for the “felt wee folk” I’ve been creating. We have also been gathering wood stumps, branches and bark (we burn firewood so I have a stockpile) and creating little wooden doll houses, complete with moss carpets and twig ladders.
I follow the Swedish clothing designer Gudrun Sjödén on Instagram and I am in love with their colors and patterns.
Jen Hewett is a fabric designer that I find inspiring as well —
I recently hand printed (with found objects), dyed and sewed curtains with a similar aesthetic. I wish I could make curtains all day!
My children’s art inspires me, and I know my art making inspires them. They soak in my creative energy and I feed off of theirs.
Music is certainly an inspiration. I love listening to new music, and I’ve been playing a lot of Agnes Obel lately (Thanks Rachel!). My kids love it and we dance together. It sets a really poetic mood to the house. We also have been listening to The Knife — Deep Cuts (not the explicit songs at this point…) Some of my absolute favorite and go-to albums are Ani Difranco — Reveling/Reckoning, Radiohead — Kid A, and Neil Young — Harvest Moon, amongst many others…
Artists inspire me all of the time at Main Street Arts. Between the artists in residence that come through and the exhibiting artists, I am inspired and intrigued regularly. Chad Grohman is one of my favorite artists that exhibits at the gallery. His current solo exhibition, Up to Now, can be viewed in its virtual format at interactive.mainstreetartscs.org/uptonow.html. I have always been deeply inspired and fascinated by Indian miniatures. I love their simple backgrounds, decorative borders and their incredible detail.
David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj are artists that I learned of long ago and will always be inspirational to me. I love how they mix painterly and graphic as well as their colors and textures.
Well, it was fun to put all of these thoughts and images together, as they truly are a few of my favorite things! There are many more, too many to list, and sometimes my inspirations change from day to day!
Everyone I know in the book industry is saying the same thing—“I can’t read right now.” It’s partly why I’ve been choosing shorter books for book clubs. It’s really hard to focus and find purpose in a world that feels more and more like a simulation or a practical joke gone too far.
Focusing is really hard, but I’m turning to an old manuscript and sort of emptying all this loneliness into it. The plot itself isn’t something I would describe, but on some of these warmer spring nights I open the window while it’s raining and play something devastating and just get to it. I think that’s what I get most out of writing, now—a narrative I can actually control and a specific form of escapism.