- to infuse spirit or life into; enliven.
- to fill with vigour; inspire
- to instill courage or life into.
“The ancient Egyptians believed that tomb statues could be transformed into living beings through a funerary ritual called the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony. The “living statue” then served as an eternal home for the deceased’s soul. Smashing the nose effectively “killed” the statue. A tomb robber or a person anxious to destroy the soul of a dead enemy simply broke the statue’s nose to prevent the deceased from exacting revenge.” - excerpt from Brooklyn Museum: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity
Last week I determined that I had painted the ugliest painting in the history of the world.
I was wrong.
Yesterday I painted something even uglier. I had gone into the studio ever-curious as to what would transpire, opened up my paints and started adding to the previous canvas; the one that only a few days ago, I’d felt hopeful about, the one with circles and colour. I then proceeded to absolutely and utterly kill it. Not intentionally mind you, but the results were nothing short of nasty.
If art is an expression of the soul, then I was scared. Very scared. For what I’d revealed was an abberation of bleakness; browns with random bloody blobs.
What is the opposite of superlatives? Whatever that is, those are the words I should use to deride this painting. Suffice it to say I have no intention of posting a happy ‘in-process’ photo. No way baby. No way.
What could I do? I washed my brushes. Locked the door, came back home and told myself it was just canvas. No big deal I muttered. But I knew that I’d just brought forth ugly into the world.
My goal in life is to promote peace, understanding and perhaps make the world a slightly more beautiful place. Some might call that lofty. I figure it’s a good way to set a framework for a life. Sometimes I manage to do something good.
But clearly this time, I had succeeded in doing the exact opposite.
To be clear. I recognized the harshness of my inner judgement on this poor besmirched painting. Lighten up said I to me. I’d tried for heaven’s sakes. Surely that was worth something…
This morning I went for my usual walk. I headed out into the fog and crunchy slush. I tromped along the False Creek seawall, breathing hard as I climbed the step up to the Cambie bridge and around the north side of the water. Along the way I took photos of misty scenes and details.
I stopped to take some photos of a mossy tree and rock. I liked the picture.
I focused in closer. I liked that picture too.
Then I really pulled in closer to the rock and as I clicked the screen…BAM!…it hit me from somewhere off to the left of my brain. A flash/thought of what can only be called inspiration.
This photo would be my new inspiration for the painting. I loved the play of line and texture, its abstract qualities. This could be the jumping off point, a way to build from those circles and those brackish-bleeding browns.
Inspiration. In + Spiritus. Breathe. Inhale. Walk. Exhale. Breathe.
And so, here’s what I know about how to find inspiration.
- Don’t look for it.
- Instead, show up. Do your best work, then step back and take lots of walks.
- Breathe. Pay attention to the world. Slow down and notice. Love the world and your place in it.
- Have Faith. Have Hope. Have Love. And remember that the greatest of these is love.
Lastly, but not least…fear not.
There are only two choices in life; love or fear. My job is to move past the fear and find the love.
And with that, I’m kicking fear’s butt to the curb, heading out to my studio armed with inspiration, hope and a smidgen of faith – and seriously looking for love.
Let’s see what happens this time…
Ubi spiritus est cantus est. – Where there is spirit there is song.