I think it’s good to take a step back every once in a while. Like when you’re a child and you’re window shopping with your grown ups, you stop at the toy store because they have something you didn’t see last week.
What about the grown ups? Where do we stop? Flower shops, cafes, designer stores, art studios, jewelry stores…the list goes on forever. I know I’d stop at them all, but a florist could take my entire day telling me about which flower I should keep in my vase. This is that stroke of color after three days of sketching.
There’s always a freshness to a vase of flowers trapped in a painting. Sometimes it’s the colors, or its the petals, the leaves, the vase, the strokes. Everything can make a difference in the scenery of a flower being displayed, even at the slightest amount. But this particular painting of Pierre Boncompain is one I’d like to analyze.
I’d like to stick with the color palette. It’s a light and monochromatic palette that plays with the hues of the same colors. But the contrast is there. The yellow flowers easily dominate the frame against the white vase and cream surface.
Now what would I do to Boncompain’s flowers if I were to keep them today, and trap them in my own painting? First, I’d take them out of the vase. Not that flowers aren’t in vases anymore, I’d just like to see flowers in petal to stem yellow. What would I do for the background? An unclean contrast. I think the pollution of today would have a place in my painting. And that’s pretty much it. I have a background with a bouquet of flowers; tulips that is.
I did this drawing using soft pastels. I wanted to keep some the contrast between the white color and the yellow from Boncompain’s work. So I left some of the paper untouched.
It’s getting pretty difficult to keep track of the times. Everyday a new event changes the way we work and live, and for some of us being inspired is part of that change. For me, it has been exceptionally difficult this year to focus on the right sources of inspiration that will fuel my mind for my own art. But there’s no excuse to that. An artist should always feel inspired.
Is it art block or not having access to inspiring resources?
A lot of people confuse these two problems. It’s much different when you have an art block, compared to when you’re just not being fed the art you need. I’ve not been able to go to any of the museums or art galleries I usually go, and I haven’t been traveling for a year. I usually feel most inspired when I’m at these places, but I haven’t had access to any of these resources.
What should I do when I don’t have access to inspiring resources?
It’s difficult to find other ways to feel inspired and motivated, but there are still options out there. Currently, a great friend of mine has been sending me photos of paintings and sculptures that they see when they go to art museums and galleries. I know I will be able to see them after the pandemic, but it has been very helpful for me to breathe the fresh air of art once again.
Another way is to attend virtual art galleries and workshops. Many artists showcase their work this way at the moment. It’s also great to visit some of your favorite art bloggers’ websites to see what they’ve been creating.
What if I still feel uninspired? Are there any other ways out?
The answer is complicated. There are still other ways you can feel inspired indirectly. For example, sometimes I feel inspired to paint after watching a movie or reading a book. It may seem unnatural but it’s not! Movies are just moving pictures, which stimulate the image-making part of our brains with the memories we receive after watching.
But texts can contain imagery too. What’s most unique about this is that each person has their own personalized perception of what the image might look like once they’ve read a poem or novel, or any text that contains imagery. So try it out! Read and discover what you may see and whether you’d like to bring those images on paper.
How do I keep myself inspired for a longer time?
Once you have been inspired, it may be difficult to maintain that state. It’s wise to continue exposing yourself to the sources that get you creating, but it’s also important to be aware of what can grow inside you. There are many things we think of, which may be potential artworks and creations. But sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that creativity must be fueled externally. Keep track of your thoughts, embrace your ideas, and strengthen your vision.
Georgia O’Keeffe has always been an incredible inspiration to me as an artist and as a woman. Her poise and magical touch of art is irreplaceable, and her work invites endless perceptions. During her life, she has changed and evolved in her paintings, but her firm character is an exemplary model for artists.
Today, 15th of November, is Georgia O’Keeffe’s birthday. I’m always reminded of her stunning works and looks on this day. I take a look at her work with Alfred Stieglitz and try to revive her style of painting every year. What amazes me the most is how soft her work can feel. The Mother of American modernism has truly left us behind a therapeutic legacy.
But I believe the Precisionism brings meaning to our perception when we look at O’Keeffe’s work. Georgia O’Keeffe has mentioned herself, “Paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it.” Her big flowers flowers with the soft colors really makes me want to touch nature, especially during these times where people can’t be as close as they were.
My favorite works of O’Keeffe are the muted pink and gray paintings of flowers.
What matters to me the most when I look at her paintings is the intimacy with nature. The petals feel so close it’s like I can feel them. The tangibility is what draws me in and then I see the hues, shadows, and highlights that make me stare for a long time.
This year, I decided to paint a piece inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. I celebrate her with the precision and softness she passed on with her paintings.
Understanding Georgia O’Keeffe’s vision through her work
Georgia O’Keeffe was celebrated for her unique, close-up paintings of flowers. Her abstract yet clear depictions of flowers elicit the eccentric vision that she possessed. O’Keeffe’s work includes collections of flower paintings, Mexico City landscapes, and skyscrapers of New York City where she eventually settled.
As we discussed in our last blog post, an artist’s vision is central to their work. Georgia O’Keeffe’s maximized focus on flowers and each of their features is exemplary. But there is a crucial question that an artist must ask before getting inspiration: What does the artist see?
Starting from Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers
Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers appear in many different shapes, contours, and colors that come from her distinctive palette. The idea may begin with picking a flower and paying attention to it. The various parts of a flower make up the entirety of O’Keeffe’s frame. Petals, leaves, sepals, stigmas, anthers, and ovaries of a flower emerge vividly. These features are visible in almost all of her flower paintings, such as Hibiscus with Plumeria (1939).
What does O’Keeffe’s palette look like?
Georgia O’Keeffe works with a variety of color palettes in each artwork. Some works are hued calmly, whereas others have powerful contrasts of color within them. But her palette presents sharp focus on mood that can be created with colors. In other words, the colors that are painted on the canvas determine what feeling will be exhibited.
Across her artworks, colors come to rise in their different hues and tones. From muted pink to fuchsia, or sky blue to a deep ocean blue give space to the different possibilities of a mood that can be created with color.
Reviving Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers in the 21st century
To revive an artist’s style is to hold their brush while looking with their eyes; thinking with their mind and feeling with their soul. That is a goal that may take a lifetime to achieve. However, channeling O’Keeffe’s art style can inspire you to start looking at flowers differently and in turn, painting them differently.
It starts with a strong vision, continues with laying out a color palette, and ends with an artwork that is touched by O’Keeffe’s legacy. Below is my take on Georgia O’Keeffe’s irreplaceable flowers.
The process of painting this piece began with an idea of a flower. Sometimes real flowers or objects can be too distracting, with details that are hard to ignore. That is when imagination comes into play.
To revive O’Keeffe’s inclusion of significant details, I focused on a simple flower with it’s petals and leaves, but then diverted my attention to a colorful background, which is present in many of O’Keeffe’s paintings. Vignetted background and edges and emphasized petals are key features of most of her flower paintings.
Yet to bring in some elements of modern abstract art, an artist can make most of the white paper beneath the colors. Such technique is most helpful when using watercolors. Even though O’Keeffe believed in defined images, defining shapes and lines can depict an abstract painting with less to tell about the painting itself.
So take a look around you. Enlarge objects with details you can concentrate on, with a canvas similar to O’Keeffe’s. Select the colors that match the mood you want to create in your art. Remember to be free as you do all this, because that is what Georgia O’Keeffe would want you to do.
Explore Georgia O’Keeffe’s collection of flower paintings
Discovering elements of an artist’s style through their work is the greatest way to get inspiration. Find more of O’Keeffe’s flower paintings here.