Sunday, August 27, 2017

Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

I woke this morning expecting a miracle. And I can truly say that I got so many miracles that I can hardly count them all. The top of my day started with someone asking me where do I find my inspiration.

She went on to say that she is constantly looking for something to make a great art design and is always coming up short. I explained how I came up with "Expect A Miracle".
But it made me think all day long about my inspiration. I once thought that I had no pictures in my head. When I was a teenager I dabbled a little into art. I graduated high school thinking that Interior  Decorating was just what I wanted to do. I didn't know that I needed to know something about it before I went on to college to study the subject. When I got to Georgia State University the advisor explained that Interior Decoration was beneath them. She explained that I would have to take Interior Design or that I could go to a Junior college to take Interior Decoration. So I stayed at Georgia State studying art. The classes were impossible and I could not keep up. I eventually began to believe that there were no pictures in my head.

It seemed that all the other students just picked up a pencil and drew whatever they wanted. I would think and think and think some more and still come up with nothing. It was a long time before I realized that I did indeed have pictures in my head but I was denying them because they did not fit the script. What script you ask? The script of the teacher and the other students around me. The script of the movies and tv shows, and maybe even the script of society.

I remember one assignment in particular. It was to draw fruit. The rest of the class drew pictures of all kinds of fruit. One student drew some neat pears on a white plate, one pear was cut and the knife was leaning on the side of the plate. That image was clearly not a part of my memory. So I thought I was a failure at art. Later I realized that I did have an image of pears. My grandmother had a pear tree just outside her back door. Tin buckets of pears would line her back porch in the fall. Sometimes we would have to peel and prepare them for making preserves, but I never saw them in a silhouette on a sole plate.

I did have pictures in my head but they were pictures based on my world experience and view. That realization helped me break out of my stagnation and create art that spoke to my visions. Then again it took me a while to isolate my own visions, give them permission to come out and give myself permission to be proud of them. I started paying close attention to my visions, my memories, and my views.

I started to look at the world with wide-eyed amazement like young children do. I watched everything. I looked at how the shadows ran along the ground away from the trees at sunset and how they hid within the leaves at sunrise. I was riding along the road one day and I noticed that the trees lining the road slanted towards the road on the right side but stood straight on the left side. Then I noticed that it was because the trees on the right were growing on a slight incline. I had never paid attention to that before. I know I will use that eventually in my art. That is how I get my inspiration, I pay attention to so many little seemingly insignificant things.

I looked at all kinds of pictures and I spend time just thinking about what I saw and what it exactly meant to me. I eventually quit Georgia State University and put art on the back burner. I didn't want to study the European great artists. I wanted to know about people that made art that looked like me and was about me. I wanted to draw my grandmother's house with her sitting on the front porch and the back porch filled with buckets of pears. I wanted to bring Aunt Clydie's house back to life. There was no place for that in the Georgia State Art department.

Big Mama's Porch               Aunt Clydie's House (with three other artists)

Eventually, I went back to sewing which turned into quilting. I didn't know that sewing would lead me back to art. I thought the traditional use of geometric patterns was fabulous. Someone said to me that you have to learn the rules before you can break them. I had no idea what that meant but now I understand. I learned that knowing how to do all kinds of quilts has added greatly to my making art quilts. I tried my hand at a few art quilts and liked it.

I went into my childhood memories and came out with some inspiration based on special times with my sisters and my father.  
                       Simple Play                                       
Fishing with Dad

 I thought of my friends and made quilts of them. I taught myself to do portrait quilts and made a series of African American History Makers.  There is much more I want to tell you about my inspiration and I didn't even get to the miracles of the day but I guess it will have to wait until the next blog post. Got to run.