“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”
~ Edith Wharton
Every year at this time, I find myself in need of inspiration
I usually pour through art books but after being so cooped up this winter
I decided get out and head to the nearest art museum.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and the museum had only a handful of visitors
So nice to be able to linger and take my time. For the first time, I began to notice not only the beautiful artwork but how each room was arranged.
As I wandered, I started looking from many different perspectives
A lonely chair beckoned to be sat on
while eyes watched every move from the wall
As I moved around the Modern Art wing, I was struck by the juxtaposition of each work. From one perspective, I saw Kiki Smith’s ceramic statue, Girl with Blue Dress, with what could be a later version of herself in the Alex Katz portrait, Ada with Sunglasses.
As I viewed this young girl from behind, I saw innocence in the face of violence (The Hull, an oil painting by Hyman Bloom). Striking, disturbing and evocative.
There were many other instances like this as I moved through each room in the museum. It fascinated me and left me wondering how I never noticed this before.
Before I left, I came across a still life painting by a little known American artist, John Frederick Peto, appropriately titled Still Life with Books. This intrigued me, not only because I love old books but because of the unique way they were arranged on the edge of a table. Something so simple yet it stirred some feeling of nostalgia in me.
When I returned home, I gathered some of my favorite old books, placed them on my mother’s old antique table and had fun attempting to recreate this painting with my camera.
Peto was apparently a master of trompe l’oeil, arranging the subject matter in a shallow space using shadow to suggest depth. It took me many tries to get the right amount of light and shadow in my image. With this painting technique, objects were rarely cut off the edge of a painting but I obviously cut the books off in the right hand corner. All in all, it was a fun experiment and I enjoyed trying something new.
Turned out to be an inspiring day in many different ways. Just what the doctor ordered.
Tell me, do you ever feel a strong need to create something?
What inspires your work?
Are there times you feel the need to break away from the norm?
I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
(Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts)