If you asked the average man on the street to name his favorite artist, you might get an answer like Michelangelo or Van Gogh. Or perhaps they’d name some current famous celebrity. If I had to name a favorite famous artist, my pick would be William Turner. The painter of light, he was called.
Sometimes, when I need some inspiration, I get out my coffee-table book full of Turner paintings and take it all in again. I look at and study the pictures more than I read the text. I read his biography years and years ago and, honestly, I don’t remember much of what I read. But those paintings … oh, my! I can never get enough of looking at those!
But while Mr. Turner is certainly inspiring, he can’t hold a candle to a couple of my real life favorite artists … Dixie and Gerrie. They come to the Gathering weekends, too. And while I would say everyone at our Gathering weekends are artists, Dixie, Gerrie and I aren’t sewing/quilting artists … we’re the more traditional types of drawing/painting artists. Well, me at least. I’m the dull one … all I do is draw with my colored pencils. But these two are into lots more than just drawing!
When I began attending the Gathering a couple of years ago, Dixie was sewing along with the rest of the ladies. She was making table runners. Later I found out that she was also a jewelry maker and did other crafts, as well. She watched me draw for a few months, and eventually I found out that she drew and painted as well, but she had never worked with colored pencil.
Then one month she surprised us all and showed up without her sewing machine, but instead with a set of colored pencils and drawing paper! And she was off and running … and suddenly I had a new colored pencil buddy and somebody to talk shop with me!
She was a natural and was doing beautiful work right away … her favorite subject was animals. And then it happened, and she found her niche … pet portraits. But very special pet portraits …
Someone asked her to do a drawing of a beloved dog who had recently passed, and it turned out great. She posted it on Facebook, and soon she was getting requests for more and she kept drawing.
Now at our monthly Gatherings we get to see the current portrait she’s working on and sometimes we get to see that one finished and then the beginning of the next one on her waiting list.
And she and I talk shop and swap tidbits about our craft and what we do. And I get so inspired, because her pet portraits are doing exactly what art is supposed to do … touching people emotionally. Because more than just copying a likeness, she seems to capture their very essence, and that’s what a good portrait is supposed to do! I know that the lucky owners of these gems cherish their pictures.
Then there’s Gerrie …
I’ve written before about left and right leanings and that’s a perfect description of our two styles … I’m the right side with all my uptight-every-line-in-place drawings and Gerrie is the left, free-wheeling spirit letting all that energy flow! She does beautiful loose, acrylic abstracts of flowers with dazzling bright colors … so inspiring! And I think, Hmmm … I’d like to loosen up some! And though I’ve not quite turned into an abstract artist, after spending a Saturday watching Gerrie, I find my thoughts a bit more free and open to exploring and experimenting with new ideas in my own work.
And – surprise! – Gerrie has self-published children’s books! And I really look forward to getting to talk writin’ and drawin’ with her, swapping stories of successes and challenges, getting inspired for some new project and considering new ways to approach it.
YouTube demos and the artists on social media have their place for garnering up some inspiration when you need it. And I definitely want to connect with more illustrators via my local chapter of SCBWI. But nothing compares to an entire day every month drawing and exchanging experiences with those two. The work that happens in the days and weeks following is impacted in profound and subtle ways. And just about the time it all settles down to the ordinary and mundane, it’s time for another Gathering, and off we go again!
I am so blessed!
Meanwhile, in between Gathering dates, if I do find myself in need of some inspiration, there’s plenty of artists on the internet to check out. And my old standby J.M.W. Turner.
Mr. Turner is way out of my league, and I know my little pencil marks will never match a Turner brush stroke ... still, it’s fun to dream …
Reach for the stars! You might not reach the star, but where you end up will be a lot higher than if you had aimed lower.
On the way up, grab someone else’s hand and pull them up with you … and keep hanging onto them when they sail past you to heights even greater!