Saturday, September 05, 2009


View from Inspiration Point



Shasta, from Susti'ka, is the name of a well-known Indian tribe who lived in the Mt. Shasta area in the 1840’s. These native people lived in three major groups in Shasta Valley, Scott Valley, and near the Klamath River. A small tribe of the Shasta clan called the Okwanuchu occupied the territory southwest of Mount Shasta where the headwaters of the mighty Sacramento and McCloud rivers converge. Very few of the people of the Okwanuchu clan remain, but I had the good fortune to meet one of their ancestors. He told me about a path above the Ney falls that would take me to a breathtaking vista of Mt Shasta that they called Inspiration Point. I wanted to capture and share the experience that I had when I visited this magical place at sunset by painting “View from Inspiration Point” for you.

Imagination is the key that unlocks originality. The question today is how do artists develop their ability to create something from their imagination that they haven’t seen before. Before anyone can be original in their creativity, they must begin with the elemental aspects of art, and that means studying, practicing and applying all the skills needed for that artistic endeavor. If your goal is to paint a scene from nature that you originate without being in nature or using a photograph, you must study nature, and learn her lines and shapes, every nuance of lights and shadows, times of day, weather conditions, atmosphere, and the seasonal times of year. Next, artists must repeatedly practice drawing and painting what they observe and feel when they paint in nature. Accurate sketching, along with skillful color choices, and practiced, intentional brush strokes assist the artist’s representation when painting the scene first hand.
The additional lesson that you as an artist must learn is to take time to memorize what you see, feel, hear and smell at the scene, and to be able to recall accurately what you have seen and experienced later. Then, you are set free to imagine everything that you have stored in your memory and use it when you create paintings in the studio without using photographs. Using your imagination is like using any muscle in your body. By using your memory frequently and consistently, you will see improvement quickly. Painting from your imagination is a skill that is essential for an artist to reach the next level of originality and creativity.

Your growth as an artist will take a lifetime. It is a continuous path of frustration and joyful insight. You will never know everything, and most artists quit before they discover who they really are as an artist. When your imagination employs the rich sensory memory of all that you have experienced, the artwork you create becomes alive, and this is what the world is waiting to see in your paintings.
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