Friday, July 6, 2012

Inspiration Hiding in Plain Sight

This post is about inspiration, a subject that's been much on my mind over the past week - because of its lack. Just as writers sometimes find themselves crippled by writer's block, artists also suffer moments (or days, or weeks, or more) of sheer, uninspired frustration.

That has been the case for me, lately, and the past week has offered some challenges to my creativity. My thoughts are with a dear friend who is fighting a serious medical condition, and a worried mental state is not particularly conducive to creating pretty nature pictures. I love painting, and I generally find the world to be chock full of inspiration, so I know things aren't going well when I find I have to wrack my brain to come up with ideas.

I finished a painting this week and then sat there for awhile lost, thinking, "Okay, that's done. Now, what in the world do I paint next?" And I had no idea. Not a clue. I couldn't think of anything I particularly wanted to paint, any species that needed illustrating or scene that needed imagining.

So I blinked back tears and painted a landscape of rolling hills and distant mountains as a gift for my sick friend, to give him something pretty to look at in his hospital room.

And when it was done, once again, I had nothing to paint.

I started an illustration of a butterfly. It came out badly - the markings on the wings were wrong and impossibly ugly. It was evening, I was tired. My eyes were sore, my neck was stiff. In frustration I stood up from my work table and announced that I was going out for a walk.

I strode through the neighborhood quickly, my only purpose to blow off steam. I wasn't looking for inspiration, or enlightenment, or even a pretty sight to put on paper or canvas. I just wanted to breathe fresh air and get the heck out of my studio. It was a beautiful summer evening - comfortable, quiet; dry and clear with a lovely cool breeze. I walked for half an hour, and as I was returning (a bit reluctantly) to the house, I happened to look up.

I might as well have seen the lightbulb light over my head. What I saw instead was the moon. It was a little after sunset. The sky was soft and lavender, and the moon was shining brilliantly just above the treetops. It was beautiful. Serene. Comforting.  I stood in our driveway looking at the sky. And I knew what to paint next.

"Full Moon on a Summer Evening" - Acrylic on Canvas - © Anna Bronwyn Foley, 2012

~For Jay, with healing thoughts. ~

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