Learning How to Let Inspiration Come to Me

Inspiration & Advice from Mary Whyte

Slicker by Mary Whyte, watercolor painting, 18 1/2 x 18.
Slicker by Mary Whyte, watercolor painting, 18 1/2 x 18.

I went through a phase when I thought I could control everything–where my career was headed, how my relationships were going to turn out, and what kind of life I was going to have. Ah, I crack myself up. What was I thinking? I now realize that control is a bit of an illusion. The best you can do is meet what appears on your path head-on.

Open to Inspiration

That goes especially for being open to inspiration for artwork. I used to keep a stranglehold on what I was going to paint or draw, what color schemes I was going to use, and the forms I wanted.

Mapping everything out so nice and neatly. Meanwhile I was missing great opportunities. Or not knowing what to do with them when they popped up because I’d been working, essentially, with blinders on.

Mary Whyte on Assumptions

Something I heard Mary Whyte say a while ago brought all this up for me again. The artist was discussing how she assumed, when she moved from Philadelphia to South Carolina, that she would paint landscapes and seascapes near her new home.

For the past 20 years, Mary has embarked on a journey of “watercolor journalism,” painting her local community and the people and places around her; documenting moments in time before they slip away.

Let It Come

Looking at Mary’s work makes it obvious why letting inspiration lead the way can be the best course of action for an artist. She has created an amazing body of work that is unique and powerful. Yet it was completely unanticipated by her. But she was open to what crossed her path. She used her considerable painting skill to record a way of life and group of people who have come to mean a lot to her.

Spring Ironing by Mary Whyte, watercolor painting, 24 3/4 x 19.
Spring Ironing by Mary Whyte, watercolor painting, 24 3/4 x 19.

The same goes when you are working in a creatively open way. For me, boldness with mixing colors is all about using hues on the color wheel that you might not have anticipated reaching for.

Allowing intuition and the wonder of the unexpected to take part in our process can really lead to amazing works of art if we are willing to let go. Creative openness can lead in ways both large and small in your art.

What Would Mary Do

I’m trying to practice being more receptive and open to what comes. I’m also trying to talk less and listen more, which is great when I am listening to someone like Mary Whyte — who says what we need to hear. Her techniques and methods in the Mary Whyte Featured Instructor Bundle have really helped me with harnessing the fluidity of watercolor.

Mary shares her approach and vision, and most importantly how she rolls with it, artistically speaking. If you are intrigued by this way of working as much as I am, get your Mary Whyte Bundle now and embrace letting go!

 

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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