Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Talking about Inspiration can be a tricky thing at times
because I sometimes struggle to see how people can't find inspiration
it usually feels like my brain is being bombarded about twenty times an hour 
with images that are crying out to be drawn and painted
and most days I go to bed feeling slightly beaten up and overwhelmed 
by how many things there are to draw and paint
and how on earth will I find time to draw them all
but it hasn't always been this way
and I used to get all angsty about what I should be painting
and what sorts of images and techniques I should be exploring
and where I should be taking my work and all that other utter crap
and it turns out the freaking shoulds were killing my inspiration

I was trained to draw and paint
I went to college back in the good old days when we actually had academic drawing classes
and tutors and professors who extolled the virtues of being able to render
and create tone in paint and it was generally a mix of technique, history and aesthetics
which meant I was lucky, as a lot of graduates now don't get that now
but the thing that stayed with me the most, that stuffed up my work for years
was image development
what are you saying, where do you want your work to be
how does it reflect and inhabit your beliefs about art
how is your style developing and reflecting your process
and all that other complete and utter nonsense
which completely did my head in and stifled any enjoyment I may have had
and don't even get me started on inspiration
I couldn't even spell it by the time I got through thinking about all that

But then after a shocking session of angst ridden quasi creativity
I gave myself a mental uppercut and told myself to stop being a complete tosser
I like simple things
I like what is around me
and drawing and painting them brings me great pleasure
I think the pleasure is doubled because it is fun to draw and paint them
and while doing the work I am made to look closely at the object
and get to appreciate its loveliness
even if it is just a favourite giant tea cup
and I feel joy in painting the same thing many times
I have attacked these mugs a couple of times
and love the bowl shape and the crispness of the blue and white lines
there is something timeless and comforting about them
not to mention they mean my tea cools nice and quickly

So I gave myself permission to not worry about image development
and to explore whatever takes my fancy
and it was kind of addictive
everything is fair game
the labels on a can, the mess in the pantry
the teetering pile of ironing with all its different textures and colours
the jungle I call a garden, my art supplies, the contents of my handbag
a trip to the pharmacy... it is all drawing and painting fodder
and my whole life has opened up into a sea of inspiration
and I find it alternates between exciting and bloody terrifying
which means sometimes I have to Do the Lean
but it is never boring and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way
because now from the time I wake up I am noticing things around me
I get to be immersed in my creative bubble even when I am doing the dishes
it is such a lovely place to be and I wouldn't go back to my old way for anything

So a big thank you to Jen at The Artists Playroom
for setting the topic of Inspiration
and reminding me to stop and appreciate how much I love what I do
and how I do it... xx

My last few blog posts have been about...


Rhonda said...

Love your post Tracey, as well as your teacup! I went through that too in my art degree. I hated my professors who were so uppity! And the art language....don't even get me started... Who are you as an artist? What does your work say about you? What's your point of view? Show us your emotions. Blah- blah - blah.

I totally agree with you...paint for the sheer pleasure of it and the rest will follow!

Sandi McLean said...

Tracey ,,,oh I do adore your attitude along with your art! What a breath of fresh you are. Hugs,

Anonymous said...

you are such an inspiration, coming here is always one the best parts of my day,

Jennifer McLean said...

Dear Muse,
I'd appreciate a visit soon. That is all. ;o)
Much Love,

Serena Lewis said...

Fabulous post on inspiration, Trace. I think I need to take a page out of your book and stop procrastinating. I waste SO much time deciding what to sketch. LOVE your work and you inspire me...thanks! xo

Rita said...

Perfect! I loved this entire post. Your tea cups are created with love and freedom. :):)

Unknown said...

what a great reminder :)

I don't think a child with a box of crayons is concerned with anything but simply drawing their favorite things and doing it for the joy of it

Kristin Dudish said...

It has taken me more years than I am willing to disclose, to recover from my formal art school training... I learned many very valuable lessons, but also graduated with lots of anxiety & self doubt... I credit the online art community (and especially friends like you) for helping me move past my insecurities and perfectionist tendencies :)

I am rambling, so I'll keep the rest short & sweet... Your posts are "killer" - The wicked combo of your amazing talent and sense of humor never ceases to put a smile on my face! (The broccoli chip one had me laughing so hard I almost peed my pants! Sorry - tmi for sure! Ha!)


p.s. "Wake Me Up B4 U Go Go" is the greatest name for a cereal... EVER!

Vicki Holdwick said...

Hi Tracey, I'm afraid I've been guilty of lurking lately, but I'm still loving your blog, especially the tea cups.


Nordljus said...

What a wonderful post! I'm still in the angsty phase, I'm afraid, and now I've got "image development" to worry about and to get past too! But at least there's hope :). Thanks for the inspiration, Tracey! Love your tea cups and your style!

Jez said...

Such a thought-provoking post. Yes, 'Artspeak' really gets up my nose, and the way in art degree classes we always had to say and write a lot of drivel. For each piece of work we had to ascribe a particular artist as inspiration. It's so good always to read and be encouraged by your posts, and with such a light touch. Thanks, as always.

Sinderella's Studio said...

needed that! amazed by your work!
cheers, dana

Unknown said...

YAY, another "old schooler" I was taught the same way....and then majored in illustration (which I've done absolutely NOTHING with ;)) which explains my alternating between flowers and bouts of the weird......
I LOVE your paintings just the way they are- with the tea cups and flowers at the top of my list but also broccoli chips and medicine boxes, et al are near and dear to my heart, for the smile they (and you) always bring to my face!
Wouldn't change you for the world!

Roxanne said...

Wonderful post as usual Tracey. I'm so grateful that I've learned by the seat of my pants and doing a lot of reading instead of some stuffy 'formal' education. I admit, though, that I've taken a few classes from some great teachers that have motivated me to reach for my brushes.

Nigel said...

I went through school as science/math type. Art was a complete mystery - and frequently still is ;)
Sometimes I wish I had gone down that route, but then I hear 'trained' artists beating themselves up over something and thank the gods that I can just make it up as I go along instead :D

Gloria j Zucaro said...

Although I had no formal art-to-get-a-degree training, I agree you hear a lot of "shoulds" from all around. I agree, you are right when you say paint what you love and whatever you feel like painting. The broccoli chips look horrible(great story though!), and I have to say I had to try, at a friends party, some roasted kale..ugh! No Like!!! Love your cups.

pauline said...

oh Tracey, i am SO with you on this one... a wonderful post! We've all been paralyzed by the "shoulds". i am happy you chose to just paint what you love, and be inspired with your surroundings. There is no room for being too anal in art. Listening to our instinct is always better than listening to that critical voice in front of the class (or within us!) Your work speaks for itself. Beautiful, as always. xox

Marji said...

I'm so happy that I stopped by today. Your post on inspiration is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks :)

Sandra Busby said...

Well this just speaks VOLUMES! It might have come at just the right time for me too, since I am feeling a sudden and overwhelming feeling that I must produce something perfect for my blog, which is solely responsible for the fact that I haven't! Please give me a slap with a giant, wet tea-bag!! I need rescuing!
(Beautiful teacups by the way!)

Carin said...

Great post Tracey! I'm so glad you got over that angst and realised what a treasure trove of inspiration is all around you in the simple every day things. I think it makes such a world of difference when we draw or paint something that we love or attracted to naturally than what is accepted by professors and the like

Terrie said...

Like you I have more ideas floating and careening around in my head than I can possibly get on paper (or canvas or whatever)...then there's the time issue. But I do find that sometimes when I have the time, I go up to the art room and look around at the happy mess and don't know where to start. Is that waiting for 'inspiration'? Usually if I stay in the room long enough, a plan develops, but sometimes I just leave and go do something else for awhile.

Anyway - your dissertation on inspiration is a refreshing viewpoint. And since I have no formal training, your feelings about art school are interesting (and echoed by others in the comments). I always felt like I missed out by not learning drawing, etc. but now...not so much!

I love your style (as you know) and look forward to years and years of more sketches, drawings, paintings, etc.

Hwee said...

The most lasting type of art is that which is heartfelt and makes a connection between the artist and the world. I don't think anyone can claim to be able to teach these. Technical perfection and theories try to inform the student of the possibile ways to make or appreciate great art, but by themselves don't make the student a better artist. :-) Really good post.

VonnyK said...

That is why I love you, Trace. You know exactly what to say and when to say it. Your entire post really made me sit up and think and thankfully it is finally starting to hit me what it means to be a true artist, which you are. I can never answer the question of what inspires me as I don't know but that post answered it all. Can't wait for our little catch up, see I know what inspires me, it's you!!
PS. and you too Jenn, don't want you to cry now.

*jean* said...

i couldn't agree more...i was so happy that there was a name for mixing all my art supplies together and it didn't take long for me to 'erase' the voices of my art teachers past once i found out other people were doing it too!!! go girl...xo

Carolyn Dube said...

Genius to remove the worry- then the art just flows freely!

Jennifer McLean said...

OMG, von made me laugh with the "you too" comment, lol. She's right though, I'm inspired by you too. Your thoughts on inspiration are just that, inspirational. Thank you for that, my muse. ;o)

PS. You inspire me too Von!

Darla said...

Your art is great and somehow always looks so spontaneous to me. Perhaps the freedom you now feel shows through.


Pointy Pix said...

This is what I love about your blog -you are so straight down the line and the fact that you are a trained artist and have managed to remain so free from the pretension that seems to be a necessary part of the trained artist's world is so genuinely refreshing! I love that you paint the every day objects that most of us would pick up and use without ever seeing the artistic potential.
Like you, I no longer have a problem with inspiration - my problem is finding enough hours in the day to actually complete a painting and wondering how I'm ever to find time to put on canvas the 100s more I have already painting in my imagination!

Nora MacPhail said...

Entertaining and well done as usual!

Currie Silver said...

you just rock. I really got a right about face reading this and thinking back over my own education...

even recent workshops I've taken have shown me lots of people with "shoulds" running their art [and Life?!]

I really got straightened out by my teacher at those same workshops, in particular while listening to her talking with others. she has a strong voice, just like you, and she uses it only to encourage. whenever she wanted to get you to see where you were going a NOT-SO beneficial way, she would help YOU to see it.

when I am teaching the kids I have a lot of them assume there is a right way and a way they are supposed to DO this. I try to help them tap instead into what they want to DO with the materials and the prompt. [though it can BE a challenge when teachers and parents who are there want to give them a lot of RULES]

again, you rock!!

Hadiyah said...

I loveeee your attitude towards art. I am in school right now, and we have art classes which annoy me soooo much, our teacher keeps giving us RULES for arts and we haveto gather the history of art pieces and the SHOULDS and NOTS. I hate it, I totally understand what you mean , it feels like all the creativity and inspiration in my mind is leaking out but at home I feel so creative and I have this exploding art energy in me. Thank you for giving a fresh breath of air. And I LOVEEEEEE your pages, I went through your previous ones and boy oh boy U R TALENTEDDDD.

Thanks for leaving a comment.

A definite follower

TwinkleToes2day said...

Fabulous post Tracey. Even for a non art person, I understand what you mean. I think the thought of having to do all that inner searching would surely put me off anyway.
Great picture, love that shade of blue. :0)

Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

Your post this week is so deep and well written, that I'm embarrassed by my post. I don't know what they're teaching in college these days, but I had the same type of college experience that you had. Perhaps that's the problem with some of our younger professionals these days?

Fallingladies said...

I have been catching up on all your posts and of course happy fathers day to sinus but i think this is my favorite of your posts lately, partly as it fits my overwhelming mess of art lately and helps keep things in perspective but also because these cups are painted so perfectly.... Simple and basic but so "effectively" i guess the word would be. I am glad you have relaxed and decided to paint what inspires you because you do it so well!

Victoria said...

What a beautiful post Tracey..I truly feel that when an artist LOVES what they do it is all that matters and that power translates through every piece of work they is that simple. Your work is gorgeous and i love this dazzling one too..Shine on..fabulous work as always..and wonderfully written!

Tracy said...

Thank you for being the inspiration (better than perspiration)beneath my creative wings. You are much gentler than that cold sock of inspirational butter I get whapped with. *GRINS* You are a wonderful artist and wondrous wordsmith. - The "E" less wonder.

DMG said...

I love what you had to say here, Tracey. In my quest to work on becoming a better painter, I too became stymied by the "shoulds." Recently, though, I discovered that when I "play," as opposed to "work" my painting is much less inhibited, and inspiration just pours in! Your work is beautiful, and I am so glad to have found your blog!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful and inspiring post. I absolutely love your blog banner, by the way, it's simply gorgeous! :)

- Sasha

Alicia C said...

wow... I have definitely been loving your blog for a long while now, & am so happy to read here re your inspiration! So much fo what you say rings so true - I actually appreciate the 'good ole days' of learning actual technique though I recognize the creative pitfalls!

Kate @ {K}Mericks said...

I'm here from PPF, but I just couldn't help but comment on this drawing. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE it! Its beautiful and simple. Plus, I totally agree with everything you said. - Kate