Saturday, June 4, 2016

Inspiration and Influences

Spring Thunderstorm Over Ravenseyrie
East Bluff, Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island
Ontario, Canada

The MOST important source of inspiration for painting ideas is our own lives... and what we like most. (Jack Dickerson)

I have been influenced by paintings I have seen in books, and in museums, not because they defined success but because they suggested possibilities. (Eleanor Blair)

Every day I wake up thankful to have made choices in life that make it possible to live here on Manitoulin Island. The dynamic elementals of our life on the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve provide me with infinite inspiration all times of the year and catalyze creative ideas that number greater than my mind and body are capable of sustaining.

The big sky, the roaming winds, the shifting colours and the indigenous flora and fauna - especially the horses - permeate my senses whether I am awake or sleeping and quite naturally guide my work in the studio.

"Sun Propeller" (Huun Huur Tu) eventide May 24th, Ravenseyrie

I find my creative output this year also remains heavily under the influence of Toko Shinoda's artworks and Huun Huur Tu's music -  with wonderful, long-lasting effects that continue to be remarkably energizing.  In today's journal entry, I thought I would show a few examples of how inspiration and influences manifest themselves in my work.

Savour the moment, be in the Now.
                                                                                    --L. Gerard

Ousado (Altamiro x Bella), late winter

Not all the time, but quite frequently, I bring my camera with me when I am doing chores on our preserve, or just out hiking its many sectors.  I am often intrigued not just with epic sky scenes or evocative landscapes, but also am easily captivated by the play of a breeze upon the manes and tails of the horses, even after all these years.  I never tire of the amazing scenes!  Digital cameras are marvellous tools for capturing fleeting, elemental sensations and make it possible for me to conjure such moments through the mediums of writing and painting when in my studio.  While sitting on the ground one fine, late winter's day and listening to the pleasing sounds of the horses eating the supplemental hay we give them, I was entranced by the way the breeze was artfully turning over Ousado's forelock, and how the light accentuated his natural bi-colouring.

I have recently been putting my focus and practice in the study of sumi-e, and I felt that the photo I took of Ousado was one that might lend itself to ink wash painting.

An informational sign in the Ravenseyrie Art Gallery

Ousado, sumi-e, unframed

Sumi-e of Ousado under glass, with my calligraphed phrase
"Savour the moment, be in the Now."

Sometimes run with the wind, sometimes against it.  
                                                                     --L. Gerard

Altamiro (Ultrajado x Pompeia) chasing a seagull

How could I resist trying to capture the essence of this photo of Altamiro?  I first worked up a charcoal study:

Charcoal sketch #1 of Altamiro turned out a bit more representational than what the "influence-Toko-Shinoda-has-over-me" was looking for, so I tried another version:

Charcoal sketch #2 of Altamiro

Based on this second, more abstract charcoal study I did several sumi-e of Altamiro running and the photo below is a particular favourite.  I used sumi with touches of  Davy's grey and yellow ochre on Japanese paper.  Here it is matted with my accompanying phrase, "Sometimes run with the wind, sometimes against it.", waiting for glass:

Sumi-e of Altamiro

I felt this painting would make a nice open-edition print and also a fine art greeting card, so I created a modified digital image of it.  I publish my prints and cards myself, with the indispensable assistance of my iMac, Epson printer and inventory of fine art papers.

Fine art reproduction of my original sumi-e of Altamiro 

Even in seeming disorder, wind moves creatively and colours dance and harmony are born of chaos.              --L. Gerard

Here is another example of how much the horses and the work of Toko Shinoda (as well as the rustic steppe sounds of Huun Huur Tu) influence and inspire me creatively.  First a photo of Legado:

Sorraia stallion, Legado (Altamiro x Sovina's Zorita)
Charcoal sketch of Legado

The nearly finished sumi-e of Legado

Sumi-e of Legado under glass

Like the painting of Altamiro running, I liked this sumi-e of Legado well enough to adapt to a fine art print and notecard:

Legado, fine art reproduction adapted from the original sumi-e

Along with the horses, the supple, elongated bodies of the Sandhill Cranes that migrate back to their breeding grounds in the wetland sector of Ravenseyrie are also repeated subjects in my paintings.  After eleven years, it seems as if the cranes and the horses have developed a rather symbiotic relationship.  The presence of the horses keeps the grasslands open and their manure provides seeds and larvae that supplement the cranes' diets.  The presence of the cranes provides an added assistance to the natural control of parasites that seek out equine hosts.  And...I think both species find each other fascinating and entertaining - certainly the landscape is a livelier place with these creatures inhabiting it!

Sorraias and Sandhills at Ravenseyrie
Walk in beauty, live in love.
             --L. Gerard

Breeding pair of Sandhill Cranes at Ravenseyrie

Sumi-e of Sandhill Crane

Sumi-e of Sandhill Crane under glass

Here are some other recent paintings that reveal those elements that inspire and influence me:

Believe in goodness prevailing.
                            --L. Gerard

Zorita's mane in winter

Zorita's mane, sumi and titanium white on Japanese paper

Sumi-e of Zorita's mane under glass

Sometimes insulate yourself from the elements, sometimes dance in the rain.       --L. Gerard

Charcoal study of Altamiro 

Sumi-e of Altamiro under glass

Live a creative life.
                 --L. Gerard

Sumi-e of Legado

Sumi-e of Legado under glass

I have had a marvellously liberating, enjoyable time exploring sumi-e while under the influence of Toko Shinoda and Huun Hurr Tu and the Ravenseyrie horses and the elementals of Manitoulin Island!  I confess less than a handful of the many recent paintings have lived up to the "ideal" sumi-e I have in my beginners mind, but there were a good number of them that I felt were evocative enough to be mounted and framed along with my calligraphic phrases.  Last week I cleared some wall space in my gallery so that I could devote an entire section to the sumi-e.  Won't my returning tourists be surprised how productive I was over the winter!  For those of you who may never make a trip to Manitoulin Island to visit the Ravenseyrie Studio & Art Gallery, I took a short video the other day to provide you a virtual tour.  Enjoy!

Make your art a gift of inspiration to others to work toward better things. (Richard Schmid)

Special thanks to Art Quotes/Presented by the Painter's Keys

We have a wonderful world to be inspired by and each new day is like an adventure into the unknown, where things that require a second glance can be captured in time on a canvas for anyone to enjoy forever. (Louise Corke)