Licht Years

where are you going, where have you been?

inspiration

74

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.

looking

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

come sit

A lonely chair beckoned to be sat on
while eyes watched every move from the wall

girls

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). Β Striking, disturbing and evocative.

on innocent eyes

There were many other instances like this as I moved through each room in the museum. Β 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.

DSC_2503

old books, old friends

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. Β 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)

74 thoughts on “inspiration

  1. Sarah Longes - Mirador Design

    That edit looks great! Juxtaposition at exhibits is often intriguing but I really love what you’ve seen. There’s a very clever curator there πŸ™‚ Nature is my greatest inspiration but also diving into some of my art books on my favourite painters and photographers. There’s so much inspiration here on WordPress too!

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks, Sarah. Nature, art, other photographer’s work..all great resources too. And WordPress is a given. In fact blogging and other forms of social media have provided me with so much inspiration and best of all, support, networking opportunities and wonderful new friendships! I’m very thankful for that!

      1. Sarah Longes - Mirador Design

        Oh me too! Support, encouragement and creative criticism were all things that I needed so much as an artist. I never would have believed that I could form such friendships with people I’ve never met all around the world πŸ™‚ Now I just need the money to travel!

  2. suej

    Love your image of the old books, Susan…most effective. Funnily enough, I have been thinking about taking images with an old book or two recently. Sadly, I have very few really old books as props!

    1. Susan Post author

      These books were my mom’s and my grand mom’s, been in the family for many years and they are so special to me. I would check out some thrift shops, yard sales and flea markets. They do provide great photo ops and make excellent props.

  3. suej

    Oh, meant to ask you, where was your light source?
    In answer to your questions, yes I do need to create, and sources can be as varied as seeing art works, reading an article, my imagination. And these days I like to try new things to stretch my creative muscles πŸ˜€

    1. Susan Post author

      Sue, I used window light for that still life. I used the curtain to control the placement of the light. And YES to stretching our creative muscles!

      1. suej

        You and me both…nearly all my Beauty in Decay series have relied on it, plus my recent shots of the White Rabbit!

  4. Rebecca

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful images. I have often wondered why art is displayed as it is in museums and too often I am unable to actually sit and soak it all in because there is typically a time constraint or I feel rushed by others in my party. (I could spend hours enjoying it all) I love coming away though with fresh ideas, new perspective, and renewed ambition for projects.

    1. Susan Post author

      I think the key is to go alone or with maybe one other person but go your own way once inside the museum πŸ™‚ This is the first time I have had the museum to myself, or at least that’s what it felt like. The Worcester Art Museum is actually quite small, so I didn’t feel rushed to see everything. Sometimes I find the big museums a bit overwhelming.

  5. 2murthas

    I simply adore, especially, the girl in the blue dress – I love how you’ve incorporated her into two images. I also love that you are getting out to museums. What a wonderful thing to do at this time of year. I am thirsting for inspiration right now.

    1. Susan Post author

      Thank you, my friend! I agree, this is a perfect time to visit exhibits but when that’s not possible, art books are also great sources of inspiration. I have found some fantastic resources at the library. And of course, your photos are always inspiring to me!

  6. moondustwriter

    Thanks so much for sharing a Sunday at the museum. That’s my favorite time to go so I can sketch, look up close, faraway, sit and soak up art.
    What a great way to experience the art.
    Last time I went to a Degas exhibit I was inspired to do a study of ballerinas- still at it.

    1. Susan Post author

      I guess I hit that museum at just the right time. It certainly is a pleasure to wander the exhibits in solitude! Wishing you the best with your ballerina study, I’m sure it’s amazing.

  7. Cecilia

    Going to museums always inspire me. I’d say the whole life and the whole world is full of inspiration, as are your really amazing photos. Great talent, congratulations!

    1. Susan Post author

      Thank you so much Cecilia. The world is full of good stuff, after being stuck inside for much of the winter, I am anxious to get out and explore.

  8. Kelly Grace

    I find inspiration everywhere, magazines and books, the vegetable department at my local Nugget market, and the fabulous Green Acres Nursery. All of these provide lots of visual stimulation for painting, cooking, and interior design. Today I shared a post about a new source for storytelling mojo. I agree with you that sometimes you just gotta get out of the house to find some fresh inspiration πŸ˜‰

    1. Susan Post author

      A wonderful variety of sources and I agree that the inspiration we find can carry over to many other aspects of our lives. I will be sure to check out your latest post!

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks Joe, means so much coming from you! It was so nice to get out and be surrounded by all that color and light! Although you know I still love b&w πŸ™‚ (8 more days until Spring!)

  9. Amy

    Creating this painting with your camera, Wow!! I’m inspired by many bloggers, especially you, Susan. I still remember the flower in tear image…

    1. Susan Post author

      How sweet that you still remember that photo, I can’t tell you how much that means to me, thank you! And I have a feeling that you are never at a loss for inspiration judging by the variety of subjects you capture..and all so beautifully done. You are a great inspiration, Amy!

      1. Amy

        Your blog site is one of the few that I love to visit; and when I’m there, I always stay there a little longer, and let my mind wander… inspiring, say the least. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Susan!

  10. Cheryl

    So many wonderful photo’s and such a beautiful little museum…you have such a good eye…I found this post to be most inspiring…you have given me something else to think about…a new way to find inspiration or at least a new way of looking at something…rather than just walking by and glancing..
    Although I loved all the photo’s I have to say the books were fascinating to me also…and like you I have many old ones…some of my Mom’s and some I have gathered at thrift stores and used book stores…I love how you view that photo and then went home and made it your own..and by the way, you should frame yours also…and someday in the future I would love to make one something like that…I’ll have to make myself a note…I have a really bad memory…LOL A beautiful article and lesson here…thanks so much Susan…

    1. Susan Post author

      Thank you, Cheryl and I’m so glad you found this post inspiring. Your still life photos never fail to inspire me, you are a master of your craft, my friend. You always display such interesting items and in a most beautiful arrangement!

  11. Tiny

    Great post Susan! I love your image of old books. Great work on light and shadows! I get most of my inspiration in nature, but also go to see art quite often…and as you say others work here on WP is a great source of inspiration as well.

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks so much, Tiny. It’s obvious how much nature inspires you, your images are always amazing. I can tell how much you enjoy every bit of it!

  12. Sandra

    Museums are great places to get inspiration and I found it fun that you recreated the painting of the old books – and so well done with the lighting too!
    My favourite photos are the first one of bust of a small child with a touching and sweet profile. I also love the one with the lone chair with an invitation to sit down.

    Nature usually inspires my photography, but since I’ve been doing a class on still life photography, I have entered a new realm of arranging scenes which seemed totally strange, unnatural and even contrived, to me in the beginning, but now I’m enjoying the creative side of this, although my preference is to create a small scene which remains realistic that could be part of everyday life!

    1. Susan Post author

      Taking a class is such a wonderful way to find inspiration and something I want to do at some point. I have seen your wonderful still life images on Flickr and I think there is definitely an art to arranging items in just the right way, not to mention adding texture and light. I’m no art expert but I do love the Dutch still life paintings, they would certainly be a challenge to recreate!

  13. Angeline M

    A wonderful idea to come home and recreate a painting you saw in a museum with your photography. I love that idea. What creativity that is and brings to an artist. Somehow or another, after I’ve been to a museum I come out and see more color and more perspectives on the ordinary things in the street.

    1. Susan Post author

      Such an interesting observation and another great perk that comes from looking at art…it does teach us to look at life in a new way. Ordinary, everyday things suddenly become little works of art. Looking at life with new eyes!

  14. roughwighting

    You really have me thinking here with your questions and your gorgeous photographs. I LOVE the one you took of your old books on your mom’s antique table. It EVOKES. I’d love to go to that museum with you sometime – never knew it was there. As far as your questions, I wake up feeling like I want to create (though my writing). I create in my dreams, during my walks, and in the middle of a dinnertime conversation. Now, if only I can sit silently long enough to write it all down. πŸ™‚

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks, Pam and yes, let’s plan to visit the museum sometime this spring…maybe have lunch? Sounds like you are able to find all the inspiration you need in every moment of the day (and night)!

  15. Beverly

    Oh my goodness, Susan! This is just what I needed to see, and read! Seriously, I’ve been thinking about visiting our Art Museum, and seeing your visit, and what gave you inspiration has solidified my idea to take an afternoon, or morning to visit ours, and see what I come away with. How nice you can photograph inside…I hope I can too. Your book image is stunning!!! Wonderful dark colors, and I like that it is unorganized.

    1. Susan Post author

      Oh I hope you do, Beverly. Most museums will allow you to take photos of their permanent collections but not of special exhibits, at least that’s been my experience. Thanks so much for your kind words!

  16. dianeschuller.com

    I really loved reading your thoughts from the visit to the gallery. I especially liked knowing the ‘story’ behind the placement of your old books.
    I’m one of those who has a strong need to be creative. That manifests itself in so many ways: my cooking, how I place things at home, my knitting, writing, photography, piano, even my yard and garden. I do need to escape from the norm, more often than not really. I am particularly intrigued with how you used your visit to the museum. Well done and thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Susan Post author

      I’m happy that you enjoyed this post, Diane. You are one of the most creative people I know and not only that but you capture you passions so beautifully with your camera. You are such a inspiration to all!

  17. SuzyHazelwood

    I love the image of the girl with the blue dress and the painting of the face on the wall, they really compliment each other. It is interesting to see what thought goes into these art museums and galleries. And taking pictures is a good idea and would certainly highlight the arrangement a lot more. It’s amazing what we don’t see, or what sometime we do see, but don’t fully realise we have – even stranger that one! πŸ˜‰

    I adore your picture of those old books – so gorgeous!β™₯ That’s something I’ve been meaning to try for ages, but I don’t think I’d do such an excellent job as you have done. Like the effects, almost looks like a real painting! πŸ™‚

  18. Ida P. Krause

    Hmmm I wonder about the positioning of the various art pieces there. Still I can see what they perhaps were trying to do. My favorite thing is that you took an art piece and tried to recreate it with a photograph. I think you did an excellant job.

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks Ida, it was a fun project to try. I’m glad I chose a simple painting to replicate, many of the others look like they would be incredibly difficult.

  19. Lignum Draco

    Seeing your photos, it’s hard to imagine you are in need of inspiration. Personally, I just like to clear my mind and forget about photography for a while when the inspiration is gone. Something usually happens to make you get out again. πŸ™‚

    1. Susan Post author

      You are most kind, Lignum. Taking an occasional break to clear the mind is a good idea. Looking at all your wonderful images makes me think that the streets are an endless source of inspiration!

  20. Sherry Galey

    I’m so happy to have a few minutes of good Internet access to check in and see what you’ve been up to. So much good stuff here to enjoy. I love art galleries and have spent a few memorable afternoons photography people looking at art — not enough though. Must do more when I get back to Canada. Your juxtapositions are inspired. But I particularly love the way you used that painting as a jumping off point for your image — and I must say I think it is one of your best. It has so much soul! Perfect light and great composition. I’m trying all the time to stretch myself creatively with my photography. Sometimes I’m more successful than others. πŸ˜‰

    1. Susan Post author

      Sherry, thank you! I love how you stretch your creativity with all the various subjects that you photograph. I’m especially loving your latest images, I can almost feel that warm sunlight and fresh ocean breeze. You are most successful, my dear!

  21. Gunta

    Still catching up here (again) after a 4 day cold that laid me low. It should be fairly obvious that nature and some critters do it for me. Beautiful and thoughtful post. I’m also a bit unsettled at the girl statue staring at that rather horrific painting.

    1. Susan Post author

      oh no, I hope you’re feeling better, Gunta. Yes, obvious indeed and the Oregon coast seems to be an endless source, how lucky for you. Your images are always magnificent. I think you had the appropriate response to that image with the violent painting. While my photo is certainly not something I would hang in my living room, it reminds me that art isn’t always about sunshine and pretty flowers..and I do love a photo that evokes an emotion or tells a story. If you think that painting was disturbing, you should look at some of the Renaissance paintings!

      1. Gunta

        I remember some of the Renaissance art from an art survey class at BU and visits to the Museum of Art (that was such a wonderful place!) I seem to have reached an age where I have trouble dealing with the nasty stuff whether in real life or art or politics. Perhaps why I seek out the beautiful, peaceful spots around me.

  22. calmthings

    A great post, Susan! I’m a little obsessed with photos of people in galleries and museums. (Collecting them on a Pinterest board…) πŸ™‚ These are terrific.

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks Shawna, now that’s an interesting project..people in galleries. Something else to observe next time I go back. Now I’m off to check out your Pinterest board.:)

  23. Sheila

    You’ve created art from art. I love the different perspectives. Some museums separate the statues and paintings but it’s much better to mix them up while wondering where each is looking and what they might be thinking. The old books are so beautiful. Your photo somehow looks more like a painting than the actual painting. I’ll have to check this museum out sometime before summer!

    1. Susan Post author

      Thank you, Sheila and I hope you get a chance to visit sometime. If you ever plan to make it up this way, let me know and I will meet you there…lunch on me!

  24. Emilio Pasquale

    Wow, I just love all these images but especially that last one where you’ve attempted to duplicate the Peto painting. To tell you the truth I didn’t realize they allow the taking of photographs in a museum. They do not in Las Vegas! (And yes, we do have museums in Las Vegas. My favorites being The Mob Museum, and the Erotic Heritage Museum- the latter of which my wife will not allow me to visit)!

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks Emilio and you are too funny..Erotic Heritage Museum, never heard of such a thing but I bet you could get some interesting shots there if they allowed it (and if you snuck in without your wife knowing)! I know the Boston Fine Arts Museum allows photos too but not of their special exhibits. I guess each on is different.

  25. My Heartsong

    Hi Susan;
    I too get inspired from a trip to the gallery or a museum. That reminds me, there is an exhibit of world class wildlife photography at the local museum not far from here. Going to the library and reading books on photography and Freeman Patterson’s books.

  26. Bob

    Hi,

    Great post. I just got back from a visit to the Worcester Art Museum, and I feel compelled to make some comments. One painting that I always visit at the museum is “The Hull”. It can definitely take you aback on first viewing, but it must be seen in person to be appreciated. Subject matter aside, it’s a really beautiful painting!

    For some additional context, here’s the museum’s blurb on The Hull:

    Finding the potential for expressionism in the figure rather than abstraction, Hyman Bloom practiced an alternative modernism that explored paint’s material properties to convey the vulnerabilities of the corporeal body. This is best exemplified by his paintings of corpses and autopsy scenes created during the 1940s and 1950s. While some viewers responded to The Hull and its image of a disemboweled corpse complete with flayed limbs and exposed viscera and rib cage as repulsive or violent, Bloom found the subject to be one in which “the paradox of the harrowing and the beautiful could be brought into unity.” Complicated formal rhythms and fluid brushstrokes both reveal and conceal the subject; similarly, Bloom’s palette in one context conveys a sense of jewel-like beauty but in another suggests the bruised opalescence of bodily decay. Bloom understood the cadavers he observed in Boston hospital autopsy rooms as evidence of physical mortality transcended by the indestructibility of the human spirit. “Life is not just what we experience on earth. You don’t just die and rot away. That would tell us that life is trivial, and that wouldn’t make sense.”

    And here’s a Boston Globe article on The Hull:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2012/08/06/frame-frame-hyman-bloom-hull/wHybj8dqO05sh0c4GoUjdL/story.html

    Lastly, here’s a site dedicated to Bloom: http://hymanbloominfo.org

    Hope you find the references interesting.

    Regards,

    -Bob

  27. Roba

    Hi,

    Great post. I visited the Worcester Art Museum yesterday. One painting that I always visit at the museum is “The Hull”. It can definitely take you aback on first viewing, especially if you’re not familar with Bloom’s work, but it must be seen in person to be appreciated. Subject matter aside, it’s a really beautiful painting.

    For some additional context, here’s the museum’s blurb on The Hull:

    Finding the potential for expressionism in the figure rather than abstraction, Hyman Bloom practiced an alternative modernism that explored paint’s material properties to convey the vulnerabilities of the corporeal body. This is best exemplified by his paintings of corpses and autopsy scenes created during the 1940s and 1950s. While some viewers responded to The Hull and its image of a disemboweled corpse complete with flayed limbs and exposed viscera and rib cage as repulsive or violent, Bloom found the subject to be one in which “the paradox of the harrowing and the beautiful could be brought into unity.” Complicated formal rhythms and fluid brushstrokes both reveal and conceal the subject; similarly, Bloom’s palette in one context conveys a sense of jewel-like beauty but in another suggests the bruised opalescence of bodily decay. Bloom understood the cadavers he observed in Boston hospital autopsy rooms as evidence of physical mortality transcended by the indestructibility of the human spirit. “Life is not just what we experience on earth. You don’t just die and rot away. That would tell us that life is trivial, and that wouldn’t make sense.”

    And here’s a Boston Globe article on The Hull:
    http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2012/08/06/frame-frame-hyman-bloom-hull/wHybj8dqO05sh0c4GoUjdL/story.html

    Lastly, here’s a site dedicated to Bloom: http://hymanbloominfo.org/

    Hope you find the references interesting.

    Regards,

    -Bob

    1. Susan Post author

      Thanks so much, Bob…a very interesting take on that painting and so interesting to learn the artist’s thoughts. I’m off to read that Globe article and visit that site! Thanks again for sharing and for your visit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: