Do you need inspiration and where does it come from?
For me, I can honestly say inspiration is to be found everywhere – colour, music, art, architecture, fashion, nature, photography, poetry, books. The list is endless.
In this post, I would like to focus on my top 5 inspirational artists. Why? Because they have all impacted on me and my art in some way.
They’re a diverse group, covering differing genres, but I find them all truly amazing and inspirational!
1. Dorothea Mackellar – Australian Poet
Born in Sydney in 1885, Dorothea is best known for her iconic poem about Australia ‘My Country’. She was well travelled and spoke many languages, but I believe it was Australia which held her heart.
I remember hearing ‘My Country’ recited at primary school and even then was moved by those beautiful, simple, stirring words, which eventually became the inspiration for one of my favourite works almost 45 years later.
I named the quilt ‘My Country My Way’ and designed to certain lines from her poem. It took weeks to get the sense of scale and impact of various elements to work.
My Country My Way has been shown in Australia, England and France and sold in 2016. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Click here to view a delightful Youtube video with Dorothea Mackellar reciting her poem ‘My Country’. It runs for 2.26m.
Here are some of the lines of the poem I interpreted into my work: ‘I love a sunburnt country’, ‘of droughts and flooding rains’, ‘I love her jewel sea‘, ‘the drumming of any army, the steady soaking rain’, ‘land of the rainbow gold’, ‘the filmy veil of greenness that thickens as we gaze’. Can you see them?
2. Alice Kettle, English Embroiderer
Alice uses line and thread to create masterful artworks where scale and intensity of stitch combine to produce pure magic. Her work is unique, painterly and diverse, but easily discernible as her own.
The ability Alice has to use thread to sketch in such a contemporary way using a sewing machine has inspired me to this day.
I was fortunate to attend a masterclass with her several years ago. She was generous, knowledgeable and humble and Alice has inspired me and the way I work greatly. One thing I took away was to try to work bigger. The scale of Alice’s work is enormous and the resulting visual impact is simply stunning.
Click here to watch an interview with Alice in 2009 entitled The Narrative Line. It goes for 10.55m but is well worth watching.
3. John Olsen, Australian Artist
John Olsen is in my opinion, one of Australia’s greatest living artists. Born in Newcastle, his distinctive work depicts narratives of the Australian landscape and wildlife and is loaded with his unique pictorial language. When you see a work by John, it invites you to investigate and linger.
What I see in his work, is a deep love of country expressed in a contemporary way, which asks me to stop and wonder at the beauty of a line, a colour, a landscape or even a pond. There’s always a story going on – somewhere!
Olsen’s art making is informed by his strong connections to poetry and literature which he uses in his journalling practice.
I recently read his book ‘My Salute to Five Bells’, (Published by NLA Publishing, Canberra, ACT, 2015) which shows parts of his journalling kept during the creation of his mural ‘Salute to Five Bells’, commissioned for The Sydney Opera House. Dotted throughout this book are delightful line drawings and beautifully hand-written observations. Pure inspiration!
His insightful, thoughtful, quirky Aussie larrikin spirit proudly shines. What an imagination and what an amazing artist.
Click here to see a short video about John Olsen’s work. It goes for 6.05m
4. Sonia Delaunay, French Artist/Designer
‘I always changed everything around me….I made my first white walls so our paintings would look better. I designed my furniture; I have done everything. I have lived my art’.
And then some, I would say. Sonia was one of the most talented artists/designers of her time. Her creativity went beyond painting to costumes for ballet and theatre, magazine covers, quilts, rugs, textiles and fashion.
For me, it is her use of colour and simplicity of line which attracts me. Her work with circles and straight lines is simply amazing.
I have designed a series inspired by the simple circle.
Click here to watch a video showing some of her stunning artwork.
5. Josef Albers, German born American Artist and Teacher
‘Instead of art I have taught philosophy. Though technique is for me a big word, I have never taught how to paint. All my doing was to make people see’. 1963.
Josef Albers book, The Interaction of Colour and his theory on teaching colour both impacted on me greatly. His teaching approach based on observation and experimentation really resonated with me. Until you actually ‘do’, you don’t really ‘understand’ – or I don’t!
An amazingly passionate man with the ability to convey that passion to his students.
Click here to view a short (2.59m) clip with Anoka Faruqee talking about teaching using Albers methods.
Quote of the week:
‘Don’t think of form, think of forming. Forming is a growing, developing process. Like a plant or living organism’.
I’m going to monthly posts from now on and will begin a series based around a piece of my work each month.