• Karen Thomas

"Where do you get your inspiration from?"

Updated: Jun 7, 2018

This question is one of the first I tend to hear when faced with a viewer new to my work. It always makes me smile, because my brain snaps straight back with "where don't I?!" Morning dog walks ... the moment I go out in nature, I fall in love. I can actually feel my pupils dilate and a sometimes fierce, sometimes tranquil, joy settles over me. The sun has just risen high enough to send light glancing off the windows of the upper farm. My dogs noses twitch as a squirrel takes a leap to a bigger branch above us. Trees! Beautiful, wise, majestic, such awe-inspiring shapes and the colours, never what you expect, especially when light is having it's way with them. My mind is already starting to grapple with composition, I weave up the pathway checking the view from the left-most side and the right-most side. Nothing for it, that tree will have to be moved. In my painting, not for real you understand! Two of my past tutors start a conversation in my head, "you need to simplify what you have in mind there girl", "why don't you tackle it via it's negative shapes?". An art buddy mentally chimes in, "why let reality get in the way of a great painting?". Thanks for the reminder! Hang on there you two, I'm walking not painting! I think my mind does this to me because it knows I never take my own advice. My long-suffering dogs throw me a knowing glance, 'here she goes, we're slowing down again'. My poor brain has already been hijacked for the day. Again. But returning home, I see one of my photographer buddies has sent me a beautiful new shot of an otter. "Feel free to paint him!" What a gift. So it will be an otter day. I need full otter immersion, I want to 'be more otter' before I pick up the brush. I sit at the computer and call up my own snaps from my summer visit to Tamar Otter Sanctuary. Yes! Fifteen minutes passes in a blur of otter head tilts, expressions, stone cuddling, squabbles, I remember otter smells, I'm letting their frenetic energy flood my senses. Oh look, there's that beautiful owl we saw there ... (Don't. Get. Distracted!) I fill my water bucket. I unzip my brush case and open my handmade palette, it's familiar weight settling in my left hand, slipping the thumb ring on. I little thrill always goes up my spine here. My beautiful tools, chosen with care and paid for by my first painting sales. Like extensions to my arms now. A knock at the window. Apparently I didn't hear the door, no surprise once I'm in the zone. Our friend and fellow villager steps in for a quick chat, looks around the room and I catch his expression. My workspace is like a madhouse today. Every day if I'm honest. I was at life drawing class yesterday and nudes are littered over the tables and blue-tacked to the mirror. It's an ongoing project you see. I stood a couple of my landscapes up before I went to walk the dogs so inspiration could be drawn, osmosis-style, for when I got back. One propped up by the kettle, so I could see it from my breakfast seat. The commission I finished yesterday is all packaged up on another surface, waiting for a post office trip. Now, the room is full of previously painted otters too as I'm poised to create. "He's just through there Alan!" I say, remembering with a guilty start that my long-suffering husband is working outside and I haven't even offered a cup of tea yet.

It's only 11am. There's a whole day of inspiration and painting ahead.

So I hope that goes some way to answering the question. Perhaps my next blog should be "How do you stem the flow of inspiration when you need to participate in real life"!

Chasing Goats

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