Friday, October 28, 2011

Change in perspective

The two best things I learned this week:
Use a viewfinder
Take off your glasses

I've been feeling stuck when it comes to painting.  I see work that inspires me, but I don't know how to turn that inspiration into original ideas.  I'm a very literal person.  Using someone else's painting for inspiration always turns into copying their work.  Rather than stealing someone else's work, I've been turning to my own work for inspiration and I still end up copying.  The end result feels stiff and forced and it's easy for me to get discourage.

It's a short drive from inspiration to despair.
I've been stuck in the parking lot for the past few weeks, but two things have helped me get back on the road.

First, I was reading an article by Jane Davies in the Sketchbook Challenge eZine in which she mentions that she uses a "viewfinder" made of old mat board and then searches for interesting composition in magazines.  She turns these little bits of inspiration into sketches, which later turn into paintings.

This is genius and I couldn't wait to try it.  I didn't need to look at art to be inspired by color and shape and form - I could look at life. I cut a rough rectangle out of a piece of black card-stock and grabbed an old issue of Architectural Digest and started flipping pages.
At first, I was still looking at bits of arm chair or appliance inside a rectangle and I couldn't see past it.  Then I remembered something Amy said in one of the tutorials she posted this week.  When she's working on shading faces, she takes off her glasses so she can focus more on the areas of lights and darks.  This, too, is genius.  Off came my glasses and I was left with lovely, blurry blocks of inspiration.

(Squint and look at these)

I turned these images into rough sketches with notes and scribbles of color

The sketch became the starting point for my painting.  Having a loose plan and color scheme took the panic out of the blank canvas, but wasn't so precise that it limited me.  I played with layer after layer of paint, changed my mind a few times along the way, and just kept playing.  Here's where I stopped.  

The whole process was interesting, fun and energizing. I can't wait to try it again. Don't be surprised if you pass me on the street half-blind and peering through a window in my card-stock.  I promise not to do it while I'm driving.


  1. You know I am always inspired when I come here - you are full of such great ideas and, best of all, you love to share!

    I was suffering the same artist angst earlier this week - wrote a post about it. I was full of those feeling of overwhelm when you look at all the amazing art that's out there and desire to join in but just feel so small!

  2. Lovint your entire posting.. It is very enriching..! ♥ Darlene..
    My first time here.. and new follower*

  3. How cool! This reminds me of something they do in creative writing classes -- you go through a book and highlight single words here and there throughout, then put the random highlighted words together as a poem. Very clever!

  4. :)) i do that too - i'll be super inspired by something and then i end up Straight Up Copying it.
    Sometimes i copy it so many times with so many mistakes that it takes on a new look, and then i'm not copying anymore.

    yes. yes that it. I'll call my mistakes 'style'

    it's not a mess. it's my artistic style.

    i'm going with that.

    i'm also going to try this viewfinder thing.

  5. I think you've got lots of creativity of your own. We all do a little copying but then we add different things to it and we can then call it our own. I guess, tee hee. You do great! Happy PPF!

  6. Thanks for sharing so many good ideas. I agree with the others that we all do a little copying from time to time. It's hard to be inspired by someone and not pick up some of their style. But I think your art is original and I like it.

  7. These are such good ideas and they do work.

  8. Busting thru road blocks here! Love the handy tips....and your cute, tenacious attitude :)

    Great start so far...can't wait to see more!

  9. Looks like a great beginning! Cant' wait for the rest ~ Awesome! ~thanks, namaste, Carol (Share the Creative Journey) ~ Happy PPF ^_^

  10. That is really interesting! Love the idea. And love your layers on the painting. :)

  11. I love what you've come up with so far! The texture of that paper combined with your beautiful texturing of the paint is delicious. And the way you came up with the composition is such a good idea!

  12. such a wonderful post. love your humor at the end.
    this is looking wonderful and creative.

  13. I love your work - love the colours and textures. It's a very attractive piece - makes me look at the details, text...

    Using a view finder on magazines - that's an good idea. I use for outdoor drawings sometimes, but have not tried it on magazines. Thanks for sharing that :)


  14. I have felt exactly the same way, but now I just wait until I see something that fires me up and I let loose without thinking. If I can suppress "trying" to make a painting happen, wonderful things appear. The moment I start trying, inspiration deserts me...

    Happy PPF

    ps I love that sketch!!

  15. Those are fabulous ideas! And your end result is amazing. I also love the parking garage painting.

    Thanks for visiting My Blog

  16. It looks great and very original!

    So glad you found techniques that are helping. And your journal page is fabulous and totally unique!

  17. I love my viewfinders so much... I hang them on a hook beside my desk and find they help me fix mistakes in my own work as well... the take off the glasses thing might be a bit dangerous as I am soooo blind I may end up painting the dog if he is sitting anywhere near my desk... happy PPF xx

  18. great post, I really liked hearing your process.

  19. Wow, I really learned something here today. I've never thought about using a viewfinder. A novel idea and one that should help with creativity. I don't wear glasses so I guess I could put someone's glasses on.

  20. I love this idea. I know exactly what you mean about admiring another artist's style but not wanting to try it in case it seems like just plain old copying. This is ingenious though and something I'll definitely try in future when I need inspiration!

  21. I really like this post the journey from start to finish and how you came to use the ideas and I love the finished article. I can see this idea developing for you and you getting so much more from it ;0) Dxx

  22. Interesting. I've never been able to copy, I start out using it, but the finished picture or Doll (I'm a cloth doll maker) never looks like the pattern/picture. I guess I can be thankful for that. But it also leads me to making my own patterns. Blessings, Janet PPF

  23. Back in art school we were forced to use a matt like this to create compositions for drawing. The items that we were isolating were from a collection of random stuff that the instructor placed in the middle on a table. It was a good way to isolate a drawing, but I found it restrictive, because once I isolated it, I had to render the drawing exactly as it appeared in the view finder.

    I like YOUR way of doing this better. I allows the artist to isolate a composition, but doesn't command the artist to interpret it exactly. Brillant. I might need to try this in my studio when developing a painting. thanks for the great idea.

    All artists struggle with ourselves. All of us have work we look at and love and want to be as good as other artists we admire. I struggle with this everytime I step in front of a canvas. I have one personal artist friend who I think is probably influencing my imagery currently and I struggle with that idea. I try to get her work out of my head because I want my work to be, well, my work.

  24. What a great ideas! I will have to try that. Thank you for stopping by my blog to leave a comment! Happy PPF!

  25. Thanks for your post. I love when people are so real.'re real! And whatever comes from you is also real. I do understand your feelings though.

    I like this new idea, and I love what you've started!

  26. Terrific ideas! I know it came from a place of frustration, but I just love your first piece in this post. I know that feeling so well, and it made me laugh.

  27. Great post. Love the idea. Thanks for sharing

  28. Excellent post.
    First, the painting of the road of inspiration is fabulous!
    Then your tutorial on using a view-finder for inspiration is just as great.

    Love the way you write from the heart and are so generous with your knowledge. :)

    Happy PPF!!
    Mixed-Media Map Art

  29. I agree with your feeling... I feel kinda lost about what to paint right now, and I feel pressured to do SOMETHING artistic more and more,and have to remind myself... It's supposed to be for fun. LOve what you accomplished with the viewfinder!

  30. This post obviously hit a chord with everyone. As it did with me. I also struggle with finding inspiration online then feeling like I'm copying. However, I find that my own preferences and style? eventually take over and while I might have started by imitating someone, the end result is usually all me.

    I've heard of using mats to frame a scene, usually as it relates to photography, but your tips put a whole new spin on it. I'm off to page through my new magazines again, with a new purpose! What a fun way to spend a rainy Sunday. Thanks!

  31. Your work above INSPIRATION TO DISPAIR speaks so much to many of us artsts. Plus it is a beautiful piece too. Love your creative spirit and what you share. Happy PPF!

  32. I love the matte idea, never thought about using it for painting inspiration! Your painting made me giggle with delight seeing my own familiar thoughts! And isn't it a cool thing that this sometimes frustrating journey can end with a wonderful work of art?!!!!Love the hairy awesome woodgrainy yummy texture in the second one too! Deb

  33. Awesome tips for finding inspiration! Thanks. :)

  34. Wow what an inspiring post! Thank you so much for passing on that idea! Love this post