View Full Version : What Inspires You?

Karen Margulis
01-27-2008, 12:09 PM
This question has been on my mind this week. My son is applying to art schools and it is one of the essay questions so we have been tossing around our thoughts. This week I also had an article about me and my daily pastel paintings in the local paper. (http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/cobb/stories/2008/01/23/pastel_artist_0124.html?COXnetJSessionIDbuild71_prod=9vygHX1TN2nJ6s3dyv9Q3nRqGm2ym46TTn6QKBmhJdwWT8sLLbnR!-1391154127&UrAuth=`N`NUOaNWUbTTUWUXUaUZTZU^UWUcUaUZUbU^UcTYWVVZV&urcm=y#) I have gotten several emails from other artists saying how inspired they were by my dedication to painting...some even are getting out their old pastels or wanting to try them...that is so gratifying. So I started thinking...what inspires me?
I decided that it isn't any one subject or artist because so many things spark my urge to paint. I think I am inspired most by the possibilities presented by a blank sheet of paper. Every day I can't wait to see how I can transform a piece of paper into something interesting to look at with a few sticks of color. It might turn into a keeper or it might be a dud, but just to have fun seeing what might develop keeps me inspired to continue.

How about you? What inspires you the most? I thought it might be fun for us to share our thoughts.

Paula Ford
01-27-2008, 12:32 PM
Hi Karen,

Since I was a kid, I have always been taken by beautiful trees, lakes, mountains, ponds, the autumn and winter landscapes of the northeast (having been brought up in Upstate NY in the mountains).

Unfortunately I didn't know why until 8 years ago when I picked up my first paint brush....it was the artist in me that was dying to paint all those beautiful landscapes. So, I have to say those are the things that inspire me....nature and the beauty of the American landscape, especially the northeastern US.

LOL...sometimes it's hard for me to drive because I'm always looking at the scenery, capturing in my mind what may be my next pastel landscape. There are certain roads I won't travel while going to work, in fear that I'll get into an accident because I can't keep my eyes on the road!! LOL It's hard living in one of the most beautiful places on earth.


WC Lee
01-27-2008, 01:35 PM
What inspires me is faces .. each face is individually unique and challenging to portray. And trying to capture their soul and energy onto a 2 dimensional piece of paper with whatever medium used is what inspires me the most. Even as a child, I was always fascinated by faces and even then I did mostly portraits.

01-27-2008, 03:13 PM
I agree, it isn't one thing. Other artists whose work appeals to me inspires me to keep practicing.. A highlight in someones eye, or maybe just an expression, can get my juices flowing. This thread!

Donna T
01-27-2008, 04:07 PM
Congratulations on such a wonderful article in the paper, Karen! It's so nice to read about you and how hard you have worked to get this far. Too bad they referred to your precious pastels as "chalk sticks" :eek: :lol: . I am a huge fan of your "weed paintings", too!

I guess I get inspired the most by light. The way afternoon light hits the side of a barn, or makes shadow patterns out of a row of trees. I get distracted driving too, like Paula, and my husband knows that when I'm quiet I'm trying to figure out how I would paint something. Lately, I'm drawn to quiet, moody skies - anything other than blue.


01-27-2008, 04:59 PM
COLOR inspires me. I look at my pastels and grab the color that grabs me and go from there.....

01-27-2008, 05:42 PM
PS- congrads on the article and your son going to college - how funny that you find a blank sheet of paper inspiring- that is the biggest terror of so many people- a blank sheet of paper to fill up LOL

01-27-2008, 05:54 PM
At the risk of sounding overly simplistic and corny, beauty inspires me. Most of my artwork has centered around the female face and figure. I vividly remember being 12 years old and in love with the girl down the street. It was winter time, so I hadn't seen her in a few weeks, since the neighborhood kids were not outside much to play. She and her mother came to the door to collect for some charity, and when I saw her I was almost overcome by how beautiful her face was. A "chicken and egg" type question I have asked myself over the years is - was that the moment that inspired me to become an artist or was it the artist inside me that caused my reaction to her? I don't suppose it matters, but hopefully it made a good little story!

It is probably no surprise, therefore, that Renoir is my favorite artist, and Pino is my favorite contemporary artist. They have inspired me as well. As well as many others, both figurative and landscape painters.

As far as landscapes go, it is simply the beauty that I try to capture there as well. While not a requirement, I feel that artistic talent should be directed towards creating beauty. That is the highest achievement for art, as far as I am concerned.


01-27-2008, 06:07 PM
Inspiration.... when I was a kid, I loved the glistening coat of horses, oh how I loved to paint that amazing copper color on a chestnut horse, or that spun gold color on a palomino. I painted animal portraits for over twenty five years, never tiring of the myriad of colors and light playing on them. I was always amazed by the light on the landscape or shadow patterns, too, but never under the impression that I could ever, ever, capture that on canvas/paper. Like the others here, I stared out the window of the car, or out the window in school thinking how beautiful the land is... Now, it is still about the light! Still afraid of not capturing the feeling of light, but much more willing to give it a try!

The most important thing for me is working from life, as much as possible, now. Giving myself the permission to fail is HUGE inspiration, as well, because now it doesn't matter if the painting doesn't turn out, I know there is always another piece of paper or canvas. That makes me want to do more....

Of course, there are so many artists and paintings that are so inspirational. I just picked up a book, Isaak Levitan-Lyrical Landscape... amazing Russian painter of the late nineteenth century... wow! Light and mood and exquisite brush work and amazing control of values, everything, just makes me want to paint!

We are all so blessed to have this feeling inside us, the need to create and experiment and to make beauty, even in times of frustration, sadness or bliss.

A critic asks, “And what, Sir, is the subject of that painting?” “The subject matter, my good
fellow, is the LIGHT!”
-Claude Monet

01-27-2008, 06:12 PM
Kim reminded me of when I was a kid- yes, I loved animal drawing too...

books also are very inspiring- esp. folks like richard mcdaniel...

01-27-2008, 10:45 PM
LOL...sometimes it's hard for me to drive because I'm always looking at the scenery, capturing in my mind what may be my next pastel landscape.

LOL me too! I drive andd i get so inspired by the beautiful scenery, and it is beautiful on the Jersey shore, as well as the wooded inland areas and farming communities!

01-27-2008, 11:57 PM
Hi everyone. I'm new to the Pastel Forum, but not new to WC. What inspires me overall is a need to create. I HAVE to be doing artwork. I'm also inspired by challenges. There are some genre's that I have no interest in doing. I pretty much have stayed with Landscapes, Waterscapes, and some surreal fantasy stuff. There are enough challenges in those genre's to keep me going for quiete some time. For approximately a year I have grown increasingly bored with Colored Pencil Work. I enjoy the vibrant color, but it has some limitations that there are just no way to work around. So, my new challenge is Pastels. So far my stuff is pretty bad, and I feel like I'm learning to draw and lay color down all over again. But, I'm so excited about the possibilities with the Pastel Medium. Ok, I've blathered on long enough, but let me say to everyone and I hope to learn so much from all of you.

Donna A
01-28-2008, 12:25 AM
I'm most inspired by color---more to the point, color relationships---the way they vibrate between each other, each in their own particular ways depending on the colors and how the respond to each other. Striking light and shadow is another relationship that excites me! And dynamic energies within the subjects are another quality that attracts me. I love doing portraits, figure paintings, landscapes and still lifes---all things that are commonly around me---and I have worked most of my life from life, though do paint as well in the last decade or two from photos I've taken traveling. I love the feel of putting the color down, whatever the "delivery system," though pastel and oil are these days my favorites, having worked in pretty much every medium of painting, drawing and printmaking since I was first able to wrap my fingers around something that would make a mark! My mom says I began my career early---and as a muralist---as soon as I could crawl over to the wallpaper! :-)
Great thread, Karen! Donna ;-}

01-28-2008, 06:38 PM
I'm inspired by a 'collector' with a very large billfold!:D

WC Lee
01-28-2008, 06:40 PM
ROFL bluefish ... I can totally relate to that too :D

Karen Margulis
01-28-2008, 06:50 PM
It is so interesting to read about what inspires us. I know there is so much and it is hard to really narrow it down. Thanks for contributing!

01-28-2008, 07:12 PM
oh... music also inspires me... esp. the '70's... and I have to say I love 'album cover art'.... like 'Iron Butterfly'