I took a little trip last week, and it was wonderful for my art.
Not one minute in the studio, mind you, but just as important.
I spent some quality time in a few art museums, did some window shopping, and temporarily changed my worldview by changing locations.
Yes, this all counts toward ‘making art’: my eyes and brain are energized by new input, whether it’s the countryside flying by my car window, the work of other artists, or the stark beauty of nature in wintertime.
This was a common topic of discussion in art grad school; many were the hands wrung over time spent in the studio but no finished or semi-finished art pieces to show for it. Often, the time instead had been spent listening to music, reading articles (usually about art, sometimes other things) talking to studio-mates. In other words, doing all the ‘behind the scenes’ things responsible for feeding inspiration, which in turn makes art happen.
Sometimes this comes about without planning or spending time in the studio: a movie scene, a snippet of overheard conversation, a memory evoked by a song, smell or meal can all become inspiration fodder, eventually producing things the rest of the world would recognize as art.
On my little ‘inspiration vacation’, I was reacquainted with the Milwaukee Art Museum – a gorgeous alchemy of architecture, natural setting and art collection.
In one of the current exhibits was a painting by Kehinde Wiley that had a fascinating background flower pattern.
The permanent collection also featured some flower pattern inspiration in the form of an engraved glass vase.
I also visited the Villa Terrace, a mansion-turned-museum on the lakeshore.
One of the Terrace’s highlights is their collection of work by Cyril Colnik, the vaunted ironworker responsible for outfitting many Milwaukee mansions with elaborate iron gates, stair railings, and fittings.
A stop at Anthropologie yielded ceramic-based flower patterns, to complete my inspiration journey.