Sunday, January 30, 2011

On inspiration, passion and paying it forward...

Well, I have a painting started three days ago that's not finished, got nothing done on Thursday, and yesterday was spent hiking and photographing the Bisti Wilderness area of New Mexico (which I will share in a separate post).  So instead, this post is about things relating to art and its creation - a topic which I regularly mull over in my mind.

To begin, I wish to extend a huge thank you to my fellow art blogger and accomplished pastelist, Casey Klahn.  I'm sure many, if not most, readers are probably familiar with his very popular blog The Colorist.  If you haven't visited, please do - in addition to his fine pastel art, he also discusses art and artists, both historical and contemporary, famous and unknown.  I've been a regular reader ever since I came across his blog in 2009, I think.  No matter the medium you work in, it's always a good read.

[stratocumulus sunset over Huachuca Mtns, AZ]
So, imagine my surprise when I see this header on my blogger Dashboard "Items" feed.  It literally left me speechless (and those that know me personally know what a rare thing that is).  And humbled that the tiny space I occupy in the blogger universe had actually made an impact on a fellow artist in such a way to inspire a dedication such as this!  And, importantly, it got me thinking even more about the value of the artist blogosphere collective, supporting each other, and the driving forces behind creating art.

A Window of Opportunity
[Partition Arch, Arches NP]
We all have our particular reasons for choosing to start an art blog.  For myself, a relative late-comer to the art blogging scene, it was the realization that, unlike most personal blogs I'd come across years ago that were nothing but humorless, vapid excursions of narcissism [now supplanted by Facebook], there was actually an incredibly rich source of content in these art blogs.  Artists sharing their creative process,  materials, artwork, and musings along the way.  I found them increasingly enriching, educational and inspiring - more so than the art forum I sometimes participate in.  Beginning a blog seemed like a good way to document my artistic journey, share things that I am passionate about with like-minded folks, provide the impetus to do something art-related daily, and a great opportunity to meet other artists across the country.   And, perhaps I could help inspire others on their artistic endeavors as I had been inspired.  For anyone who is a new reader, or is otherwise inclined to read it, I went into much more detail about my artistic background and history leading up to the point where I began blogging in my introduction post, which can be read here.

A Good Thing
[unidentified Lepidoptera sp. - Colorado]
When I first began blogging and following and regularly reading them, I started linking other artist's blogs on mine, but I was otherwise a lurker.  None of these artists knew I existed, which was understandable, but they also didn't know I enjoyed their work, either.  That seemed contradictory to the spirit of a social network like blogging, so I began to leave comments to let artists know I appreciated their post and blog.   Some would even return the gesture, which was a pleasant surprise.   Leaving comments and sharing the work of fellow artists makes me feel good, because I know it's appreciated.  How else will we find out about the multitude of talented artists out there, or know if anyone cares about what we are doing if not for these same small gestures?  So, in the spirit of that, I will make a point of regularly sharing with you the work of others that I find inspiring on some level, a small way of "paying it forward", as it were.  Perhaps a few more will be so inclined to do the same if you don't already; it is a reward unto itself.

[9-13th century Hohokam rock art, White Tanks Reg. Park, AZ]
Another thing that Casey's post got me thinking about was how important passion for one's subject is to an artist.  It probably is the single biggest driving force that fuels every accomplished artist - famous or not.  I think of work I see by artists of all abilities, mediums and cultures, spanning the centuries, and it's immediately clear whether the artist was passionate about his or her subject - the resultant painting, music or writing can't help but to engage viewers, listeners or readers.  It truly does appear effortless, and it's easy to forget that it is usually the result of years, if not decades, of dedication to one's craft.  But, passion is at the foundation.   I've even seen it in the artwork of children, whose technical skills are far from refined.  I really appreciate Casey's thoughtful observation about the subjects I've chosen to depict in most of my art; the fact my passion comes through in my paintings means that to that end, I've achieved one purpose as an artist...but that will never justify complacency or maintaining the status quo - it merely means I'm correctly following my artistic compass.   I've painted other subjects - boats, and other scenes from the eastern part of the US when I lived there - but it's just not the same.  It doesn't even feel the same.   However, I delight in seeing the artwork of those that express their passion for boats, or whatever emotive response to a subject that moves them to create, even if it's not a subject I'm normally not interested in.  I think it's exciting, and it's one of the things I think I enjoy so much about art in general, and why I appreciate art of all styles, genres and media.  

Community Support
[hoodos, Bisti Wilderness Area, NM]
Finally, I'd like to express my gratitude to those who have taken the time to read my blog, leave comments, and especially my followers and regular readers.  It's your support that keeps me inspired to keep forging ahead towards greater artistic heights, and provides the sense of community that I value so much within the blogosphere.  To all those that are new and just now following or reading this blog, thanks to Casey's generous post, I will do my best to maintain and hopefully elevate the level of content  that he felt made it worthy of a mention and marked as a "hot blog to watch in 2011".  

I leave you with a favorite quote from a source of inspiration to me:

"Betterment is a perpetual labor."
                                          -Atul Gawande, MD, from Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance


  1. Congrats on the Hot Blog designation, well deserved.
    I'm about as guilty as they come for lurking, as it can be a bit of an effort for me to make a half intelligent remark. However, I have enjoyed your posts here and on WC. Keep up the good work!
    Since you are also on a snow binge, you might appreciate Ben Bauer's work.

  2. These photos are a work of art too!

  3. Congratulations, Sonya! Your Blog is always a pleasure to see and read. Keep following your passion. And thank you for the inspiration you have givne me.

  4. Dan - thanks so much for your comments. Your comment about why you lurk made me laugh; I've had the same thoughts about posting a goofy comment (and I know I have, actually). Thanks so much for including the link for Ben's work; I've just added him to the list of blogs I follow - great stuff, there!

    Helen - thanks, and you're right: they all happen to be examples of things I find beauty in and that inspire me as a photographer.

    Liz - I appreciate your comments, and of course you know I feel the same way about your work as a source of inspiration for me. And I delight in knowing I influenced you to start your blog ;).

  5. Congratulations on being singled out by the glowing orb! Nice post.
    The sunset pic is magnificent. Your header looks great, by the way!
    More soon.

  6. Congratulations, Sonya! You deserve it! It seems that blogs are very much like sitting in a room, listening in on the conversation (lurking? it had a name?) and sometimes participating. We all benefit from those conversations, much like artists in the past that met in groups, i.e. Cape Ann, Old Lyme, Taos, The Eight (Ashcan School), The Putney, etc..

    Writing intelligently? I struggle with that all the time!

  7. Jala - thanks, and I'm glad you enjoyed the took an absurd amount of time to write. And, it was definitely time to replace the header on the blog - glad you like it as well.

    Susan - thanks so much! Yes, "lurking" is the official term given on forums, for example, when one reads but doesn't post. Can you imagine if the artists in the past of the groups you mention had blogging available to them? I seriously love panning down on the thumbnail headers for the blog list here to see the wonderful and varied art created by everyone.

  8. I enjoy reading your post..very interesting and you're such an inspiration to all of us. Beautiful photos...I especially love that wonderful sunset..!

  9. Hi HIlda - thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and photos, and it really makes me happy that my work likewise inspires you in some way! Happy painting!

  10. Congratulations Sonya! This is my first visit here, but I will definitely become a regular. Found you through the award on Casey's blog. I enjoy your work & your writing style! Drop by my blog if you have a chance :)

  11. Hi Ruth - thank you so much for the visit and kind words; I appreciate it!


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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