“I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.” — Andrew Wyeth
As I have mentioned, I work. Yes, in an office. Full time. Not the most glamorous or creative of environments yet there are days that I see inspiration all around me at the office. Magnolia and Dogwood trees in the springtime outside of my office, in shades of pink, cream with the vibrant new green of early spring. A winter sunset that fills the sky with blazing oranges and reds and deep, magnificent purples behind the tree line. The seemingly haphazard stack of papers, steaming coffee mug and eyeglasses that actually come together just right for a still life. The guy leaning back in his chair staring out the window while on the phone with the sun hitting his profile and folds in his shirt just right . . . . . You know the feeling, when the color, shape, composition hits you in a certain way and you wistfully say to yourself, “I wish I could paint that right now”.
Well . . . who’s stopping you? Yes, your boss. Probably some co-workers. And the general reliance on a paycheck . . . but you can take two minutes and quickly sketch out the composition or take out your cell phone and capture the fading sun or pink dogwood outside your window . . . for later. Capture what inspires you.
And it’s not just at work that I have these feelings of immense jealousy for those who don’t need a paycheck and have boundless time on their hands. I see scenes everywhere that I have captured in order to paint later. A field full of wildflowers while on a hike with the boys and our dog, a historic lighthouse on the Cape, a quaint street scene when awnings are out, there are cafe tables on the street, and pots of flowers everywhere. Those moments when you don’t hear the person you are with talking anymore, or when you stop in your tracks to stare. You will know it when it hits.
I keep a folder on my computer called Pictures to Paint and that’s where these snapshots and mobile phone pics go to wait for me. And when I do get one of those rare weekend days when I can devote time to painting, I sometimes go to that folder and pull out a gem. Right now, I am planning to paint two water scenes of Chatham from photos I took 3-4 years ago!
And remember – if you create a work of art that is contest worthy or you want to sell you need to make sure its an original and not a complete copy or derivative work from someone else’s photo! If you need reference photos, one source to check out is The MorgueFile.
Challenge: Its summer and it’s a great time to capture pictures while on vacation or while you are out enjoying nature. If you don’t have one already, set up a folder and start filling it with photos or thoughts on what you want to create. When you are ready, it will be there waiting for you. The tough part will be to select which one! In the meantime, while you build your file of possible works of art to come back to, there are several websites that offer a daily or weekly challenge such as The Daily Paintworks or Illustration Friday which will keep you active!
This post originally appeared in my local paper.