For the past month, when I write in my journal, I usually sit in the corner of my dining room. From there I can see my plants and watch the sun rise behind our old shed in the back yard. Being winter, the view is in the toned down colors of gray, olive, hunter, mustard, and walnut. But not everything is toned down. The exception is my Christmas cacti. Now their blossoms have fallen but they were a dramatic counterpoint to that view. Particularly the largest one, a flamboyant magenta. As my eyes drift out the window and back to my journal, they pause on those magenta flowers. They're fascinating! These plants only bloom at the time of year when most plants struggle -the short days and cooler temps of winter. The flower is an odd shape and it faces downward. And the color! Its petals (technically tepals - a combination petal/sepal) are white at the center and then flush out to a vibrant magenta at the tips. The very bottom tepals on this particular cactus are a translucent cadmium red color. So strange that those last three or four are a different color. I'm compelled to look more closely.
Doing a little research I found out that these cacti, genus Schlumbergera, are leafless. The green segments are actually photosynthetic stems. And in their native Brazil, they grow on rocks and trees with their flowers hanging down to be pollinated by hummingbirds. What a sight that must be - jewel-toned birds sipping nectar from jewel-toned flowers.
Back to my journal, I'm reviewing the past year thinking about all the changes that have occurred and what I'd like to do in 2019. I gaze out the window, I gaze at my plants, I think, and I write. In a few weeks, I'll be going to Massachusetts and I'd like to bring along some new small paintings for Hourglass Gallery. It's time to switch gears and head to the studio.
There are days when I enter my studio knowing exactly what I'm going to paint. Then, there are times like now when I don't have anything specific in mind. At these times I sift through my hundreds of photos until one speaks to me. No rhyme or reason to it. I could pass by the same photo for years and then one day it stops me in my tracks. Like the Christmas cactus did when I was writing. This is my previous cat Kitzel riding in my car in Massachusetts. I've looked at this photo from 2012 many times but now it's telling me it wants to be painted.
People often ask me how I make the color choices for my paintings. They don't really have any rhyme or reason either. They come from whatever speaks to me in the photo.
A day or two after finishing this painting it occurred to me that these weren't random choices at all. Thinking about visiting Massachusetts and all the changes that have happened since leaving there made me a little homesick, so I chose to paint a memory. And the background of the painting is that same translucent cadmium red from the bottom tepals of the Christmas cactus. This is how Inspiration works.
From the seeds of fascination, Inspiration easily begins to root itself in one's mind. Once rooted, it requires very little to grow and blossom. We only need to pay attention. It's so easy to lose our time constantly preoccupied and looking at screens when all around us there are amazing shapes and colors, creatures and sounds. When we engage with these things, take part in the wonder, and interpret them through our own experiences, that's when Inspiration blossoms.
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