Archive for April, 2010

On Inspiration

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

My lovely friend Caite and I have had a dialogue going back and forth on the topic of inspiration. She sent me this article, written by artist Alison Jardine, called Inspiration is Irrelevant. To paraphrase, Alison was asked by a college student, “Where to you get your inspiration?” and she answered immediately, without thought, “Inspiration is irrelevant.”


A candy study I did back in 2000

A candy study I did back in 2000


I know what she means. Every single time I arrive in my studio, plunk down my bag, and stand in front of a series of partially made or blank (eek!) canvases, I freeze. I don’t want to be there. I want to organise drawers, prime door casings, sort tools, file clippings, anything but face those canvases. If I’m perfectly honest, I’d say I’m inspired 10% of the time I plunk down that bag. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for my career, or a sour little brat. That’s not what I’m getting at.

The thing is, once I start doing anything to those white squares, they take on a life of their own. In Alison’s words, inspiration becomes irrelevant.

The hand is moving, the critic shuts up, the hand takes over.

The versatility of acrylics and oils are such that one can just muck about and allow something good to happen (or not), and to be perfectly honest, something good happens 90% of the time. You really do just have to show up for it, and not wait for that elusive Inspiration. I find I feel more “inspired” after a good productive day in the studio than I ever do before it. Especially if I’m not particularly inspired when I arrived! It’s like being dragged to see a film you have no interest in, and loving it.




The word inspiration should really be subsituted for commitment.

Do I feel inspired today?
{Music swells}

{Music dies down, like a broken record, a la Monty Python.}

But do I feel committed today?
Yep. I’m here, aren’t I? 

Okay then.
{cue sounds of CBC Radio 2, a kettle boiling, and the swiff swiff of something, anything, being applied to canvas.)

Off I go, y’all.