Monday, November 23, 2009

Sources of Inspiration

There are lots of great classes and workshops listed on the Classes page on our SoCoCulture web site. Check out what our members have to offer! Last weekend I mustered up the courage to attend a terrific watercolor workshop hosted by one of our members. When it comes to the visual arts, I have always placed my talents in the stick-figure category, but I must say that after an hour and a half, I came out of that workshop feeling pretty pleased with my watercolor landscape.

Our instructor was encouraging and had lots of helpful advice, but made one admission that struck a sour chord with several attending the workshop. We were practicing painting a variety of objects -- feathers, butterflies, rocks etc. -- and the artist singled out for our attention one beautiful rock picked up in a national park. "I know you're not supposed to do that," the artist conceded, "but there were lots and lots of rocks left."

Sorry, but that's no excuse. It's not just against National Park Service rules to remove natural material from a national park -- it's an offense to common sense. Think of the millions of visitors to national parks every year: if everyone felt justified in removing just one rock, picking just one flower, picking up just one ancient pottery shard, eventually there'd be nothing left. This artist clearly derived inspiration from the park -- but engaged in an action that was disrespectful toward all future visitors, including future artists.

This brings up the general notion of inspiration and where it comes from. I've been to a couple of the exhibits currently listed on SoCoCulture's Exhibits page and there are more I'd like to get to: the photographs by Jay Galvin in the Knutzen Family Theatre lobby, the abstracts by David Jayne at the Carco Theatre Gallery, the magnificent landscapes and structures featured in the "Marvels of Modernism" exhibit at Kent's Centennial Gallery. What moved these artists to work in a particular medium, to focus on a certain subject? For writers and poets, what prompts them to write about certain topics, choose certain genres? For musicians, what causes them to play the harp instead of the drums, country instead of classical?

The conductors of all of the symphony orchestras that are members of SoCoCulture are generous about giving background to the pieces they perform. Coming up, for example, conductor Stewart Kershaw will be giving an entertaining lecture immediately prior to the Auburn Symphony Orchestra's performance of Handel's Messiah on December 2 and 3.

I love having the chance to talk with artists of all sorts -- it's just plain fun to talk with creative people, and to get insight into work that otherwise, frankly, might mystify me. Many of the galleries in South King County hold free artist's receptions in conjunction with the opening of their new exhibits -- check the SoCo calendar periodically for your chance to come on out to a gallery in your area to see some interesting art and meet some interesting people!

Best wishes, Barbara McMichael/SoCoCulture administrator

1 comment:

  1. As I look around at the wide variety of artwork that my fellow artists and I are creating for our annual Third Runway Potters Holiday sale,(Sun. Dec. 6, 11am to 5pm at Moshier Art Center in Burien), I notice that each one of us has found inspiration through nature. I realize how much I need to walk in the woods, breathe in the delicious wet air and wander the beaches for interesting driftwood and pebbles. My inspiration may come from noticing a pebble nesting within a shell on the sand or perhaps the beautiful shades of beach stones in the water. I choose clay as my artistic medium, recreating the organic images found in nature.