Usually, I travel around the country giving painting demos and lecturing at art organizations. Not so during this odd time in our history. I have not been at home this much for more than twenty-five years! The pandemic has given me time to slow down, do projects around my house, walk my neighborhood and to simply appreciate all that I have.
It is true that when I travel from my home state of New Jersey, I experience and paint wonderful subject matter. I am inspired by the fresh, exciting sights. I essentially fall in love with new beginnings.
Why, when around our everyday surroundings, do we quickly write off the possibility of any type of inspiration and prolonged creative tracks? Perhaps the familiar gives us a blind eye to the possibilities. Shame on us! How do we overcome this neglect of the ordinary?
For me, appreciation of the familiar happened in a round-about way. My gym activities were suspended, so I began to walk. I walked and walked and began to see more and more. I felt a change happening inside me in late November when holiday lights were turned on: I was inspired! I was excited to start recording the dusk scenes of houses that took on a completely new character once the night came and the lights went on. I gathered my paints and started working on a series of these wonderful stage-like scenes!
I had not painted many nocturnes before, but had a lot of experience painting interiors. I quickly adapted the palette and approach for my plein air nocturnes. After a few tries, I was in the saddle and comfortable painting under lamp light. I stayed in my neighborhood and backpacked around for quick “hit and run” paintings. I was trying to stay incognito, trying not to attract attention. I wanted to capture the scenes just as they were. I began to realize the ordinary was not so ordinary.
My adventure continues, and now I am painting a series of my neighborhood covered in snow. I use the same strategy. I backpack out with a very light setup and find locations that literally have transported me and my creative imagination to other worlds.
I started posting my paintings on Instagram and the world has responded! I have sold paintings all over the place and get wonderful feedback from artists and collectors regarding the feeling that my work gives them.
This leads me to the most important part of this story…when an artist is moved so completely to get out and paint something that their passion is overflowing and their excitement cannot be contained, this is what I call the “X Factor”. When an artist paints something that so engulfs their emotions, this translates to paintings that go well beyond the technical aspects of mere renderings. When an artist paints in a zone of complete absorption in their subject, an undeniable feeling of universal connection is transmitted from that work.
So the next time you are bored and feel uninspired, stay close to home and give yourself time to absorb the beauty that is right around you. Look at things in a different light and it will change the way you see and paint subjects forever.