The Blank Canvas and the Paradox of Inspiration

​The blank canvas stares back at me. Will I treat it as a challenge fraught with trepidation, or an invitation to be brave and explore the emotions of this moment? That’s what I do, I paint emotions, not scenes you’d recognize, so I rely on what’s built up inside me, or what I allow to enter into my soul when I open myself to the universal energy, the magic that is waiting for expression.

My paintings are intuitive interpretations that develop into series organically. With this series, though, I’ll be creating with intent:  an exhibition inspired by water, the oceans, lakes and clouds that sustain us and demand that we pay more careful attention. “Our Water, Our World” will open at Art Lab Studios in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia on June 1stand will show until June 20th.

“A Lifeline”, 36″x48″

The blank canvas stares back at me. Will I treat it as a challenge fraught with trepidation, or an invitation to be brave and explore the emotions of this moment? That’s what I do, I paint emotions, not scenes you’d recognize, so I rely on what’s built up inside me, or what I allow to enter into my soul when I open myself to the universal energy, the magic that is waiting for expression.

My paintings are intuitive interpretations that develop into series organically. With this series, though, I’ll be creating with intent:  an exhibition inspired by water, the oceans, lakes and clouds that sustain us and demand that we pay more careful attention. “Our Water, Our World” will open at Art Lab Studios in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia on June 1stand will show until June 20th.

I realize now that I have to paint to an expectation, so there is a certain amount of apprehension. Since my process is usually more spontaneous, less focussed on theme, I need a different approach. As with all obstacles we surmount, it is also rewarding find a way to express this theme with passion, so that it will stir a visceral response immediately. It’s my version of the 5-second rule. What does it make you feel when your eyes first catch sight of the painting?

I stand with the challenge for a moment, and then take the leap. I’ll choose the colours first, which will inspire the mood. Payne’s grey, silver, gold and white evoke an enchanted feeling, that magical time of day when the sun goes down and colours fade after sunset. Creating movement with the reach of my arms; how far will I spread the paint out across the canvas, how wide or small will my brush move across the waves, that will be the next step. Now I have it. I am swimming in the ocean itself and feel the painting creating itself. This is the sweetest time of creation, when the painting tells me where it wants to go and I merely jump in and swim and play until it lets me know that it’s time to get back on shore. 

The hardest part of creating a painting is getting started, but without taking that leap of faith and beginning with that very first stroke of colour, the painting has no where to go. So, it’s up to me, not the muse, to say I’m ready to get started. It’s not about waiting for the image to appear fully formed in my mind, for ‘inspiration’ to come knocking at the door; it’s about having the courage to begin anew, each and every time. 

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