What Is Your Inspiration?

My earliest childhood memory is drawing. I was lying on the couch in the living room at age two and a half, and my mother was a glance away in the kitchen. I had a red ballpoint pen and a picture book. Gleefully, I drew a large red oval on the back cover, and I remember thinking that I had gotten away with it. I can look back at that book, which I still have, and at other childhood drawings and smile at the intentthe drive to put my pencil to the paper.

Drawn Face VI
by Dirk Dzimirsky, 2009, graphite, 16 1/2 x 21 1/4. Collection the artist.

These days I've moved on to graphite, ink, a sketchbook, and more advanced subjects, but I'm still inclined to draw when the moment hits me. Sometimes it's after watching an opera or seeing an art opening. Sometimes it's a museum walk, or even time spent taking photos on a hike. I frequently like to pick up a pencil once I've spent some time watching a workshop or looking at new artists online, but most often the moment hits when I've just looked through the most recent Drawing issue. This fall issue is truly inspiring, with the photorealism of Dirk Dzimirsky and the masterworks of Adolph Menzel. You can see a full table of contents in the Drawing magazine blog and read an article from this issue by Jon deMartin on drawing fundamentals, but there is truly nothing like flipping through the pages yourself. And, since I'm online at Artist Daily all of the time, I'll be looking for your inspired new works in the Gallery.

If there is a particular muse, mentor, workshop, article, book, or issue that has inspired you lately, let us know; make a comment. I'm interested to hear about what gets other people sketching. What is your inspiration?


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About Karyn

   My heart has always been in art and I spend the free time that I can painting.  Currently, I work in acrylics and I'm creating a series of abstract pieces.  But, I'm a materials collector and I've recently purchased some pan pastels, some new oil paints and watercolor pencils.

I no longer work for Artist Daily, so I won't be checking the site regularly and have no ability to remove posts or images.  Please contact the staff of Artist Daily or American Artist if you need help.

15 thoughts on “What Is Your Inspiration?

  1. If I know how to paint, this is where I learned it. It was on this very spot when I was in the ninth grade, that I learned how to paint. At least I saw how to paint and I have spent the last many years learning it. I am still so early in my knowledge and development. I see this work and it reminds me that I’ve always wanted to live long enough to mature as a human being. There is no rush. Life will take you where you are going. The Chess Players in the middle is for me perhaps the perfect painting. As Gogol’s, The Overcoat may be the perfect story. Find those people who make no disguises for life, who present it without sentiment or cleverness. Art is not cleverness, language is not even for cleverness. There is the Tao, there is the French Man Cezanne, The Russian Gogol, The Minnesotan Dylan… etc the list is long and short.
    Simon Levenson

  2. My inspiration is dawn. I literally wake up thinking about whatever I am working on at the moment. I have never had one of those moments where I stare at a white canvas and am paralyzed. I have the opposite problem. The best thing about going to sleep is that I get to paint when I wake up.

    I think I have always been this way. Whatever was my passion of the moment….a good book I am reading, time spent with my baby years ago before the rest of the household woke up, an adventure with the dog on a walk to see how many birds we could name, this night’s new recipe…..it didn’t matter. I have always been absolutely passionate about the next moment.

    Even in hardship and grief, I am looking forward. In grieving I looked forward to when the pain became soft then happy memory. This summer I spent very ill. The thing I remember most about the hospital was my spouse yelling “You are NOT dying. You are WAY to sick to die!” It cracked up the room and after that it made me laugh every time I thought of it. Still, I admit I did want to pinch her since laughing isn’t fun after stomach surgery!

    When I focus on what I have and am grateful for I seem to just get more of the same. Every morning I wake up inspired. So I guess for me, dawn is my inspiration. I know I am incredibly lucky to be this much of a pollyanna in life but as is typical for those people who always see the glass as overflowing, we don’t really care if someone else feels differently. It’s just one big inspirational adventure and every dawn reminds me of that.

  3. To me there is nothing more inspiring than witnessing incredibly dramatic light touching and bending and dancing its way across the features of a human face and figure. Then toss in just the right spark of emotion and I’m hooked – I can’t look away no matter how hard I try. There’s magic in the air. It could be someone I see across a room who suddenly turns and steps into the perfect light or someone I’m having a conversation with over coffee who tilts her head just the right way and the light catches an eye or the bottom edge of her lip. And then there are those paintings you spot from across the room in a gallery or a museum and you are compelled like some mystical magnetic force to move towards it and everything else in the room vanishes. It’s the light for me – it’s always the light.

  4. To appreciate and “perceptually and visually” admire “little things” in everything i.e. in the facial expressions of other people, the “seemingly” unnoticeable work of people on the street, the way the birds hang on electrical wires, the way sun casts light on the clouds during dusk and dawn…

    even the thoughts and “dramas” of those we talk to, the way the wind whisper messages on our ears…all these seem to be the compounded source for me to sketch…and be inspired to live…to see ourselves “small” in front of all the magnificent array source of beauty…particularly if we extract the goodness and beauty of friendship….a real and lasting source of inspiration…a forever gift of the creator to us…who can only sketch a speck of the beauty of humanity….Love Life is Inspiring…this what gets me to sketch..just the “little things” in everything…

  5. The passion, thoughtfulness, reflection that I hear in your responses is inspiring in itself. I enjoy seeing a commonality in the way the artist pursues the next piece in their mind first from the smallest glimpse, the deepest sense that beauty and subject matter is everywhere. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for drawing!

  6. Last month I took a plein air workshop with Lorenzo Chavez. The workshop itself was one of the most inspiring I’ve been in. But, more lasting, was a book he brought with him, and which I recently purchased. A VISUAL PALETTE by Kevin Weckbach. In it Kevin defines three levels of painting and, how, as an artist, our goal is to push our understanding of the visual dialog. While it’s not a “how-to” book it does get into the application of visual principles, and has pushed me toward more critical thinking in terms of my work.

    Another inspiration for me has been Harley Brown. I work mostly in pastels and instantly gravitated to his use of form, light, and color. He no longer teaches, but I have a couple of his books that I turn to for inspiration. If my mind is muddy, his words often help to clear it.

    In the physical world, I’m often inspired by sunsets–the fleeting glow that happens in diminishing light, how it creeps over the tops of mountains, bounces off a building and backlights a group of trees or a figure.

    Wet Canvas Figure Forum Guide

  7. Dirk Dzimirsky’s work is wonderful. Graphite was my first love. I still love feeling the pencil glide against the paper when doing large shaded areas. One of my favorite graphite artists is Paul Calle. He wrote a book named “The Pencil” published by North Light and distributed by Watson Guptill. The book went into a forth printing in 1978. His illustrations are amazing.

    I was taught to go outside to sketch a scene then go into the studio to do a painting from the sketch. We captured the correct values in the pencil sketch and used them in the painting sometimes using our own color scheme instead of the one found in nature. It was a wonderful experience, very enjoyable sketching out of doors feels like a picnic. Now I usually do plein air when working outside and I love matching natures colors and pushing the atmosphereic ones. I have also found that the stokes used in pencil drawing helps with my strokes in oil painting.

    Yes, I agree. Those litlle bitty glimpses are where it all begins. Inspiration is everywhere.

    This post has inspired me to do a pencil, something I have not done in a while! Thanks.

  8. My father was my inspiration,since i was a child,i saw him painting with passion.And i grew up with the same passion for painting.He painted all the beautiful monuments of our island ,Curacao.And now i am painting them ,not the same way ,i think more femenine,with more flowers etc.Now i am painting for an exhibition,i love it,and i hope to paint for the rest of my life……..Corinne.

  9. I live in a town that has many amatuer ophotographers, many of whon choose to shoot in black and white instead of color. I find I am drawn to these because it is so easy to determine the values of light and dark when I want to redraw these in my’own way. I never draw them precisely as they are; I don’t want to make exact copies. But I will often reproduce a portion of one drawing and incorporate it with part of another to get a special effect. In fact, I have even taken colored photos that I like and copied and enlarged them on a copier to get the best possible reference for values. I am using the copier only as a tool; a means to an end. Much the same as I would use a ruler to get a straight line or change my position in order to improve an angle or the overall composition. I do not limit myself to drawing, but work also in oil, acrylic, watercolor and mixed media with the concept in mind that unless I have an correct drawing to start with, the finished results will be lfar ess than what I desire. I feel strongly that the ability to paint can be learned much more easily than one can be taught to draw, but that an accurate drawing is the key to every successful painting. riverlady

  10. I ride bike in the early morning hours about 1/2 before sunrise. Everyday brings a new scene with changing light conditions as the sun comes up. I carry a camera and a small sketch book with me to record my ideas and thumbnails. This is where most of my inspiration comes from. On the off days from riding I go out to the areas that I think have possibilities from my thumbnails. and develope larger studies in pastel and oils.

    Jack Bingham

  11. I am not sure this will be helpful, because I am 70, have been sketching throw-aways all my life, but have recently been drawing things to keep. I do not know what the trigger is…..but there are many times when I feel the absolute need, the compulsion, to draw. I have started to dabble in paints, but that is not the same. I also can’t draw just anything – if the subject (in my mind ) is of no interet to me it is boring to try to draw it. I look at magazines and spend a lot of time in the local library looking for subjects to draw. Collections of photography seem to be my best source, but postcards, calenders, and other visuals have caught my eye. I can’t find a trigger, nor can I really find a subject area. Landscapes, some people, a few birds, almost anything has the potential to click….Rob King (asirasking@aol.com)

  12. My inspiration generally comes from most places and people I come in contact with on a daily basis. For me two very helpful sources of inspiration in those times of a lack of drive or when I’m simply just having a block would be music and an occasional change of scenery.

  13. Mindfulness, committment, contemplation, and a sense of playfulness all interacting consciously and unconsciously to to serve as the taproot into my spirit – indeed all spirit will provide me with an endless wellspring of ideas – every idea filled with potential meaning to be expressed however I choose. My expressions, to be real and true, must appear without motive or hope of secondary gain. I have to “Use the Force”, like in Star Wars. Creation is a spiritual act. I believe most “Artist’s Statements” are primarily egocentric bombasts – sorta like whistling in the dark. I made my living solely off my art as a studio potter. I’m an art therapist as well today. One has to be in constant touch with one’s spiritual path. I know I was put on this planet to make art – that is my spiritual path. My job is to dream – to be a dreamer. Society tells us that this is not correct – materialism must reign sustained by linear thinking. What most humans don’t comprehend is that the Real is unreal and the Unreal is the Real. Hey, take a ride on the Reading!! . . . . Christopher Morrett