People are often curious about what inspires an artist to paint. Especially when the subject isn't as obvious as a landscape or a portrait, for example. When I am asked this question I usually have a difficult time answering succinctly. Because there are myriad answers. And the question begs the artist to put into words not only the reason for painting a particular subject but the reason why one paints at all.
The first reason is often regarding subject. And the answer can be as simple as wanting to capture a scene or show the beauty of a face. Sometimes it's because an object or group of objects have interesting shapes and colors that are pleasing to the eye of the artist. For me, it has been all of these and then some and can be a many-fold answer.
The subject matter itself has to be interesting and meaningful. I find it difficult to paint something if it doesn't have a connection to someone or something. For example, rendering a portrait of my sister’s dogs who are no longer here with her. I wanted to capture not only a picture of what they look like but I wanted to give a sense of who they are, so that every time she looks at it she is reminded of them and how they made her feel.
Many times I paint something that captures my eye and makes me feel something. Often I will sit and just observe my surroundings, the sunlight hitting a leaf in such a way that the color is illuminating and vibrant. Or the way that a flower bends and the color of its petals will make me want to save it like a snapshot. Color and light are two of my biggest inspirations. When something is striking, like a red hibiscus against the lush green of its leaves and stems. Or the way a yellow slice of lemon rests against an ultramarine teacup.
Another form of inspiration is emotion. One of the best instruction I have received is to look at something and notice how it makes me feel. Then close my eyes and name the sensation in my body. Joy, sadness, peace or anger. And then how do I want to translate that feeling.
Recently I have been painting more abstractly and have used emotions like anger and grief to drive my creative inspiration. The recent shootings in Orlando, Fla., stirred in me such a sense of grief and hopelessness as I thought about the vibrancy and youth that was so violently ended in a flash. I painted a peony in the end stages of its bloom. It still has its color and gentle petals
half full of light and water as it droops to its end. Not unlike the young people who were in that club dancing and celebrating their love and life.
Inspiration comes in many forms. The colors and shapes of things, the desire to evoke emotion in somebody else, or the expression of an emotion that is evoked in me. The fact is, there are endless reasons to create and do what we do as artists. The important thing is to always be open to that inspiration. That drive to express. Inspiration is always available as long as there
is sight, sound, feelings and life. And someone to appreciate that expression.
̶ Linda Cala