Friday, March 13, 2015

What Made You Paint This Painting? Inspiration Strikes Later Rather than Sooner

"Chicory," 11 x 14 inches, Pastel © Lynn Goldstein

Teaching is a wonderful way to learn more about your own work. My students ask questions that make me think more comprehensively about my methods, directions, compositional choices, and my inspirations.

When I started "Chicory" as a demonstration for my pastel students, I was in the midst of a very busy period. The day prior to class, I looked at my photographic references, saw an image of a field, and chose it for my painting. In most cases, I give a great deal of thought to my subject before making a commitment to embark on artwork. However, with my tight schedule, I didn't do my usual soul-searching. I took a look at the photograph, made a sketch, got the sketch on my Uart pastel paper in preparation for my demonstration, and called it a day.

In the middle of the demonstration, I was busted when one of my students asked what drew me to this particular photographic reference. I was honest in my answer when I responded that I really hadn't given it my usual thought. Then the rumination began. While working on the painting, I remembered why I was moved by the photographic reference. The shot was taken near Woodstock, Virginia while I was teaching a workshop at Orkney Springs. When I looked at the field before me, my heart skipped a beat as I saw chicory blossoming everywhere. This field was not cultivated, and the chicory was blooming freely. While making this painting, I was able to recall the freedom that I felt on that sunny day as well.

I recommend that students use photographs that they have taken for many reasons. One reason is this: it's only possible to deeply recognize what interests you in a location if you have personally experienced that place. So, during a cold February day, chicory was flourishing in my studio.

Inspiration from Teaching

On Saturday March 7, twelve students gathered to take an experimental acrylic mixed media workshop with me. At the helm, I was sure that we started promptly at 10:00 a.m. because we were going to cover a lot of territory. It was such a pleasure working and watching as each student fearlessly jumped in with gusto using materials that they had never used before. In fact, every single one of the participants inspired me with their willingness to try something new! This was such a fun day. I absolutely plan to teach more acrylic mixed media in the future. Keep an eye on my website ( to see when I schedule another workshop. Better yet, when you visit my website sign up for my newsletter, that will give you a head's up well in advance of the next workshop opportunity. Again, teaching provided me with inspiration, and I send a heart-felt thanks to the people who participated. Here are some photos of the day:

Here's everyone at the end of the day to share their hard work.

A close-up of one of the pieces in progress