Thursday, November 12, 2009

That Magical Moment

A friend of mine on Facebook began a discussion topic on Picture Picks about the Creative Muse. I love ideas that get me thinking and this one definitely does. If you have not seen it please do. It is preamble to my discussion here today.

I have been working on paintings for an upcoming fair and experimenting with some new subjects and new shapes. It is one of the ways to call the muse forward, as it were. Repetition, which a lot of artists do because of the demand for certain work, can be very limiting. In my current group of paintings I am working with two repetitions, two new looks at older compositions, and two departures.

Painting is a process as in writing or composing music. And one may begin without the muse guiding you. You may instead be guided by all those things you learned in school like the rule of threes, and perspective, and the color wheel. And then a spark occurs or a transition away from your carefully laid plan. And among that group of paintings you are working on comes one that breaks out and becomes more.

Photography is a rather different duck in this pond of creating. You compose in the view finder and freeze the moment with a click of your finger. And yet it is still possible for some magic to happen even in that short frame of time that makes this one photograph among all the others on the roll of film or on your flash drive all that more special.

I was thinking about that this morning as I placed my three votes on the Picture Picks Event Furry, Fuzzy, Feathered Friends. There are a host of wonderful pictures in the 41 submitted for this event and yet a much smaller amount seems blessed with some special light, or composition, or movement of the subject. It is very difficult to define. I have sat in more classrooms than I want to admit and listened to professors claim they could manipulate that moment. Reproduce it at will.

NOT. We can learn from those exceptional gifts that are bestowed upon us if we are open to being guided. We can be grateful for when we capture that exceptional photograph or achieve that particularly magical composition on canvas, or on the piano, or in prose or poetry. But repeat it again, and again, and again? Try to imprison the muse. That would lessen it.

Yes, some artists do seem more a channel for greatness than others, but I am sure Mozart threw sheet music in the fireplace, and Shelley wrote and rewrote. That Ansel Adams trashed some negatives in the darkroom before they saw the light of day. Painting over a canvas and beginning again is nothing new to painters. Maybe those that are blessed with more magical moments are just those that do more: take more photographs, write more poems, paint more paintings.

They have at a minimum learned the mechanics. You must first begin with some understanding about what does not work in order to be pointed in the right direction for guidance on another level. And you must be willing to stretch the edges of the envelope. And then get self out of the way. And then learn to recognize it when it happens.


  1. I so agree, Jacqui, though I'm somewhat burnt-out and rather discouraged by all the self-promoting I've been doing of late. The process involves itself in so many steps. I believe PR is highly overlooked and underrated yet so necessary. It's also the hardest, IMO, for the sensitive artist to pursue. But pursue they must!

    My partner teaches courses with me in the same school on Thursdays. After class he was telling me how he has a student who enrolled in his drawing class to 'unlearn'. Interested, I asked what that was all about. He told me that she and many other students of his have learnt to draw with lines. Now he's trying to teach them not to use nor rely on them. They are to work with light and shading instead. Fascinating, simply fascinating.
    I've no energy today. HUGS

  2. You are so blessed to be gifted in ALL these artist areas, my friend, and in the more mundane, as it were, areas as well.
    I am just a plodder, enjoying watching and seeing what all you accomplish.

  3. Three quotes for you, Jacqui:

    "Inspiration is a byproduct of discipline... simply getting up everyday and planning, plotting, sketching, setting up or actually applying paint to a painting." - Beverly Claridge

    "What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough." - Eugene Delacroix

    "Don't wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working." - Henri Matisse


  4. I have saved many quotes of Henri Matisse. He has often said what I needed to hear.

    I have the following one on my Facebook page:
    I am unable to make any distinction between the feeling I get from life and the way I translate that feeling into painting. Henri Matisse

    Thanks for the quotes, Nicholas

  5. And how many best sellers 'almost' didn't make, I wonder?


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.