Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

I find inspiration through a variety of sources. I’m inspired by other artists, people in my life, my past experiences, nature, light, shadow, reflections and the subconscious mind. I guess that sounds like there are a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head. To me, that is the beauty of art – sharing my interpretation of life with all its beauty and sometimes pain.

Green-Eyed Lady (My Mother)

Green Eyed Lady by Emmy Spoon (Her Mother painted from a photograph)

This year is the twentieth anniversary of my mother’s passing from ovarian cancer. She was only 46 years old. Throughout the years, I have transformed some of her photographs into paintings which has been healing for me. It is nice to memorialize my mother and capture her beauty and her essence. I wished she had the opportunity to return to college as she often spoke about. In her younger days she enjoyed writing short stories. She wanted to be a nurse for a while and also a teacher. Deep down, she was a free spirit who loved life and her family. I hate that she missed out on a lot of milestones, college graduations, marriages, and the birth of her grandchildren. She pushed me to pursue my dreams and to not stay in an abusive marriage. She has and continues to be my inspiration in my life.

Visiting Artist from the Past

I have to admit – I am not a huge art history buff. I never took art history in college but I am always fascinated by art from the past when I see paintings and architecture. There is something about seeing the scale, form, brush strokes and layers in person, versus looking at it online or in a book. Two years ago, I was able to see some work of great artists of the past while traveling through Europe.

Vincent VanGogh, "Bedroom in Arles," (1889) at Musée d'Orsay,Paris

VanGogh's third version of his painting "Bedroom in Arles,"1888, Musée d'Orsay,Paris

I have always been drawn to VanGogh because of the thick swirly strokes he used with exaggerated depiction of blues and yellows. It looks as though he didn’t over think each placement – you can almost feel the free-flow movement of his strokes in his paintings. Some of his paintings feel cheerful and others (his self portraits) give the impression of pain. I always liked the way that he painted this room in a distorted, skewed scale. There are actually three versions of this painting. The one I saw displayed in Musée d'Orsay, Paris is the third version. The bedroom is often seen as one of our most intimate places that we spend a lot of our time. What a contrast it would be to see a version of this painted to depict our time today. Maybe all we would see is a cell phone illuminating someone’s face in their bed, doom scrolling before they go to sleep?

Claude Monet "The Water Lilies: Setting Sun," (Around 1915-1926)

CLAUDE MONET The Water Lilies: Setting Sun, Around 1915-1926 at the Musée de l’Orangerie

Monet is known for painting the same scenery over and over to depict nature transforming in different light while it evolves through the seasons. He spent his last years working on his large scale panoramic series, “Water Lilies,” which the Musée de l’Orangerie houses in Paris. Monet designed several paintings for the building. He designed two oval rooms in the museum to give the viewer, in his words, “an Illusion of endless whole, of water without horizon and without shore and making the museum’s Water Lilies a work that is without equal anywhere in the world." It was amazing to stand close to the strokes and then step back to see how his impressionistic style captured the movement and light on the water.

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, "The Park Güell," (1900 to 1914)

Park Guell Landscaped with Flowers of red and lavendar

The day that I visited The Park Güell in Barcelona, my husband and I had walked up a mountain of stairs to get to the park entrance. I guess you could say it was the scenic route – but my out of shape body wasn’t ready to conquer all of those steps. The beauty that awaited us was worth it. The architecture was organic as it was built around the landscapes' garden and splashed with color from Antoni Gaudi’s vibrant and playful mosaic style. A major contrast to a lot of matchstick box town centers that are popping up throughout the United States that crowd out historical parts of towns. I yearn for more spaces to be designed by architects similar to Guadi. Growing up in the country surrounded by nature makes me yearn to be around more organic settings of flowers and wildlife in their natural elements instead of a block of chain stores and restaurants that frame a man-made fountain.

Frida Khalo, "The Two Fridas," (1939)

 <a title="wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0 &lt;https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Las_Dos_Fridas.jpg"><img width="256" alt="Las Dos Fridas" src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Las_Dos_Fridas.jpg"></a

While I haven’t seen her works in person, Frida Khalo is an artist that I find inspiring through her surrealist depictions of her pain and self-portraits. She had polio as a child and was later involved in a motor accident that kept her bed-bound for quite some time. Her style and perseverance through all the pain is something I cannot imagine enduring. Her artwork is daring, depicting strength and resilience. She continues to be a strong feminist icon today. This painting is currently housed at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, Mexico.

Subconscious Mind - "Mystery" by Emmy Spoon (2012)

Subconscious Imagery by Emmy Spoon "Mystery" 2012

When I need time to deal with my emotions and yet have no words to express them is when I feel most drawn to turn to a blank canvas and start to paint. This could be digitally or with acrylics. I usually put some music on depending on my mood. As I start to layer color and texture, elements emerge, and I may enhance them or distort them more. Removing expectations and letting everything flow freely is the most liberating and the most rewarding time that I spend expressing myself.

Home Life Inspiration

Being home-bound this past year has been challenging. Not just because of the pandemic, but also because I gave birth during the pandemic. My daughter is the light of my life. Yes, I can say all those cliché sayings such as, “I didn’t know what true love was until I looked into her eyes,” “She is truly a blessing.” I could go on and on. After all, what kind of mother would I be if I did not list my daughter as an inspiration? In all seriousness, being a mother is scary. Thoughts that run through my mind, “I hope she doesn’t grow up hating me,” I hope I don’t mess her up.” When I take care of her in the daytime, she centers me and reminds me of how innocent we begin. Of course, I couldn’t do all that I do without the other huge inspiration in my life, my husband. Some more cliché thoughts, “ I don’t know where I would be without him,” “I can’t imagine going through life without him.” Being able to stay home with our daughter during her first years of life has been the biggest gift and inspiration that my husband could ever give me. He is my cheerleader, my steadfast companion, my partner in parenting and in life.

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