INSPIRATION// old door

An old looking door I spotted on Miami Beach...I appreciated the fact that it seemed rather out of place.

I've always been drawn to and inspired by closed doors (perhaps metaphorically), weathered wood, layered paint and such. Time's passage, or the appearance of it. I've been thinking about inspiration, as I gather images in my mental bank (and of course in the other virtual bank- on my laptop) for future reference, for when I can set up a studio again.

I read recently- cannot recall where- a debate on whether artistic inspiration was relevant. And then yesterday, I came across this interview with Agnes Martin posted by Kate Beck. During the clip, Martin talks about inspiration versus ideas. She states that inspiration is vital; ideas are not. She even goes as far as saying that ideas can cause the inspiration to disappear. It's given me a few things to ponder. Personally, I've always needed inspiration, felt it was vital to the success of my work. I mean, how could inspiration not matter? Does it matter to you? I realize sometimes we just need to go paint, and we go into the studio feeling creatively empty; but there comes a point in the process in which the work itself provides the inspiration. That, I understand.
When I'm influenced by things in the world, it's abstract inspiration- not literal. It's the effect of visual elements on the emotions and spirit that interests me personally, and offer to inspire and inform my work.


Pam Farrell said...

Re: inspiration vs ideas
Interesting topic.

I envision inspiration as a specific form of energy comprising numerous "fields"... physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, that when converging, works as a gestalt. For me this is something that happens only periodically.

Ideas I have constantly, and they seem to be more a product of my cognitive process. I've long thought that if I only painted when I was feeling inspired, I could never sustain a career as a professional artist.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...


Yes, that would be the paradox- if we only paint when feeling inspired, then...well, we all know how that would go (or not!) That said, we've all gone into the studio when not feeling like it, and the inspiration somehow manifests itself during the process of putting paint onto a surface. That's been the case with me, anyway.

I'd like to read more about Agnes Martin's philosophy on ideas vs inspiration. She seemed to refer to inspiration as an entity, as in The Inspiration. Perhaps she has her own interpretation of the term. I like yours- "a specific form of energy..." The convergence of all those fields would indeed seem periodic for any artist.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

I found this quote by Agnes Martin:
"Inspiration is there all the time. For everyone whose mind is not clouded over with thoughts whether they realize it or not."

And another: “I’m very careful not to have ideas, because they’re inaccurate.”

And then this:
"Living by inspiration is living. Living by intellect – by comparisons, calculations, schemes, concepts, ideas – is all a structure of pride in which there is not beauty or happiness – no life."

Terrill Welch said...

Stephanie I like how you make a distinction between literal and emotional attraction... that intuitive connection. I wonder if that is why we often know we really like a piece of work but have a hard time telling others why?