Monday, 3 January 2011

Inspiration

One of my all time inspirations, the work of Stanley Spencer. © Estate of Stanley Spencer, 2003. All rights reserved. DACS

”The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.” -- Picasso.
I've been thinking a lot recently about creativity: where it comes from and how we express it. I am also often asked where I get my ideas from and whether I ever 'get stuck'. In the past an artist's muse or inspiration was accepted to have a 'supernatural' source. a divine gift that uses the artist as a conduit or an instrument. And it's funny because that it what it feels like sometimes. When the work is flowing and I am working fast to keep up with what's spilling out of my mind, it really feels like a strange force is working through me. At times I hear whispers directing my hand, at others I see a faint line guiding me to trace over it. It is certainly a mystical experience where I can't seem to do wrong. it isn't always like that though! On some days it is laboured, drawn out and frustrating, I end up throwing it away or more often I just glue a fresh bit a paper or a collage image and start again. When I put pen to paper, i never know what will appear. I never approach my sketch book or board with a ready thought up image. That is not to say I don't have an idea I want to work out. I am as curious as anyone to see what comes up. When the work is finished it can take weeks even months for me to figure out what it is saying. And the most pleasurable thing is when someone looks at the work and sees something I hadn't even thought of. I do worry st times that I am revealing too much, but what seems obvious to me, is not necessarily so to others. All this is very personal to me and I don't really know how other artists work or where they get their inspiration. There is an element of superstition to this subject, you don't want to pin the process down too much in case you break it, or you scare the angels away so they never come back!
 Creativity and the compulsion to express it is hard wired into the human psyche, it is a need as vital and as basic as the need to breathe, but sadly it is not recognised as such. I think it was Plato who said all education should be art based, because he understood the importance of this drive and how deeply damaging it is to suppress this need and not give it voice. If every human being was encouraged to keep a book in which to take a daily flight of fancy, right from when he or she could hold a pencil, I am convinced there would be less crime, bullying and mental illness. But this is my theory and I am sticking to it!
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