Defined as, “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative,” inspiration is often elusive. Yet it is precisely that fleeting thing that generates some of the most powerful and lasting works of art, music and dance that resonates over time. How do artists find inspiration?
To anyone not inherently a “creative type,” we may wonder just how an artist – be it a painter, musician or writer– continually finds new subject matter to use in their art. What inspires them?
Most recently, the exhibit, “4 Different Perspectives,” at Twisted Fish Gallery featured art inspired by the varied northern Michigan scenery. Joan Gerigk finds inspiration in people, objects and architecture, and strives to impart an emotion in her pieces. Artist Ron Theisen states he loves the terrain of the area, and often paints dunes and beaches. We are indeed blessed with many scenic vistas in northern Michigan, from sweeping fields and vineyards, to wooded lots, shorelines and majestic dunes. Stately barns dominating open fields conveys solitude or may evoke nostalgia for a bygone era, like Robert Scudder’s “Foster’s Barn at Sunset,” below.
Exploring art history, the inspiration for famous works of art is also known – or at least pondered. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was believed to be a painting of Madam Lisa Giocondo, wife of a wealthy Florentine, although recent Italian art research now claim the work was inspired by da Vinci’s male apprentice, Salai. The origins may remain as mysterious as the smile.
Jeff Koons’ whimsical “Balloon Dog,” reflects the inspiration he finds in a breath of air – a symbol of optimism and the future. Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” was inspired by the artist hearing an actual scream while out on a nature walk.
An artist’s singular technique can fascinate, opening new doors for others. Georges Seurat’s pointillist masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” above, comes to mind, with its dots of color forming images. The style of Vincent Van Gogh is also unmistakable.
Though personal in nature, viewers benefit from an artist’s inspiration in myriad ways. We get to admire technique, colors and tones, and the overall feeling the artwork inspires in us. If we are creative types ourselves, we may take inspiration from those artists and create our own art – be it a poem or a painting.
Inspiration may indeed be elusive, but its effects are undeniable.