Hi again readers,
I went to San Francisco earlier today to seek inspiration for my writing. One of my suggestions is that when you’re in a creative rut, you need to shake things up. Taking my own advice, I took off for my adventure today. Here are my take aways from today on generating inspiration to create:
There is something about San Francisco that is truly inspiring. Maybe it’s because it’s an epicenter of technology, people, and cultures. Or perhaps it’s because of the artwork, the history.
I just got through visiting an exhibit of the Le Nain brothers at the Legion of Honor, one of my favorite places. As I write, I’m looking out at San Francisco Bay at the Golden Gate Bridge, feeling inspired by the water, the power of nature and humanity’s creativity.
The exhibit had so many layers to it. When you looked at the artwork, there were little details that could had easily been overlooked if one wasn’t paying attention, if one was only looking at the surface. In almost every painting, there was a reference the Eucharist, with a glass of red wine, and sometimes bread. The brothers believed that every meal should be treated holy as the Eucharist.
Also, their art had details. When looking at what appeared to be black paint, you would see a crucifix, or perhaps a tea pot in the background on the fire mantle (the teapot reference reminded me of Utah Teapot reference from the 3D graphics community). Many of the paintings, such such as in The Allegory of Victory, had a completely different painting underneath it when x-rayed. The original painting had the holy family underneath. You can still see hints of the previous painting in the current one if you look hard enough. Many of their other paintings had subtle halos such as around the Virgin Mary and the babe Jesus. There was the not so subtle things—the guilt on Judas face in The Last Supper painting. Many of their paintings had at least one subject in the painting looking directly at the viewer, breaking the third wall, such as Judas looking directly at the viewer in The Last Supper painting.
What’s amazing is that these three brothers inspired many artists, such as Eugene Delacroix and Paul Cézanne, who in turn influenced other painters after them, such as van Gogh.
What can we learn from the past in order to gain insights into the present in order to create the future?
Depth is Key in Your Art
I loved finding all of the Easter eggs in these paintings, such as the teapots, the glasses of wine, the hidden crucifixes and the dog used in several paintings. Many of these objects wouldn’t be seen unless if one interacted with the painting for more than a few moments. The depth in these paintings allows the experience of viewing the art to unfold and delight the viewer.
The Details Do Matter
Not everything needs to be perfect in a painting to have details. For example, the brothers didn’t paint fingers well – rather they appeared to be boneless. However, you look at their paintings and the lighting, colors of skin and shadows, and the painted folds of fabric all combine into a believable narrative. Other details to note include the blush on a child’s cheek, or the texture of feathers on a hat, add that finished polish to the paintings.
Use Different Subjects to Communicate Meaning
Many of the paintings were of children doing using adult behaviors, such as playing cards or dancing. At the time, the Catholic church viewed those things as sins. By having children painted in these acts, the painting has a much stronger impact versus adults, who know better.
Look at Ordinary Objects Differently
There was also a neat book exhibit of both past and contemporary works that had books that were designed differently. One example was la rose et le chien by Tristan Tzara and Picasso. Inside were three circles with words on them. The person reading the book could compose their own books depending on how they rotated the circles. Another book’s design that was influenced by Japanese culture was Musashimaro, by German artist Veronika Schaepers.
I met a super nice woman named Dora at the museum store who talked about living every day as if it were your last. Go out and do things, shake up your routine. Live your life.
After visiting the museum, I walked around the grounds of Lincoln Park. I had never really explored the area. I stumbled upon a Holocaust Exhibit, which was very powerful. I also found a stone commemorating Japanese and American relations, and access to the beach.
I definitely am filled with inspiration as I write this post, overlooking San Francisco Bay. I am so grateful that I live close enough to come up here, to one of my favorite cities in the world. I hope to make many trips up here in 2017 to see the many fabulous art exhibits coming up, meet new people / visit old friends, and be filled with joy. These things power me to create great art.
Au revior, San Franciso.