Monday, January 13, 2014

The Request: Seeking Inspiration

"The Request" by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 22" x 30"

Accepting The Challenge: Seeking Inspiration

All right, I did take a week off from the challenge. I needed to breathe, and when I decided to come back to this I did actually feel a bit of that "Just DO it, Jim" kind of determination.  

One of the challenges in this challenge - as I've defined it for myself - is deciding which unfinished paintings to finish off.  The piece of paper I decided to work with is one that I have a long history with.  It is a full sheet of Arches Rough watercolor paper that I stained with orange and turquoise acrylic inks about 3 years ago.  I loved it so much - or maybe I loved its potential so much - that I wouldn't touch it.   Eventually I coated it with acrylic medium so I could preserve what was there, and would be able to return to it should I ever need to. I never needed to. I painted over this sheet of paper twice. It was an abstract landscape for a few days and then I somewhat mindlessly painted over it all completely - had a lot of fun and ended up with what you see here. And this is where my painting began today. 

I flipped it sideways and began to carve out my painting.

Finding Inspiration: First, Take A Deep Breath

c.1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from Old French inspiracion "inhaling, breathing in; inspiration," from Late Latin inspirationem (nominative inspiratio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit). Literal sense "act of inhaling" attested in English from 1560s. Meaning "one who inspires others" is attested by 1867. - Online Etymology Dictionary

Breathe!  That's literally what "inspiration" means!  This serves as a reminder that when the restrictions seem overwhelming, breath. In-spire! How interesting that the painting I came back to the challenge with ended up reminding me of what it means to seek inspiration and where one might find it: in the multitude of those who have gone before us. Masters, philosophers, artisans, scholars, priests and sages and healers, they are always present, at the ready to inspire us with their marks and the thoughts they have left behind.  

The turning point for finishing the painting came when I decided to add the color to the cape in the central figure.  I thought I was taking a risk by adding the red and giving him such strong focus, but when I did that everything else in the painting - including all of the other figures - became an environment and set up the story.  That one decision made the difference.  Suddenly the purpose of all the other figures became clear, as did his. 

I love it when that happens!  


  1. My absolute favorite!!!! You really recharged you batteries with that week off! Great painting!!!

    1. Thanks. Good point. Recharging batteries... we do need to do that.

  2. Jim, I love this painting. When it first appeared on my computer screen, I actually caught my breath because it was so stunning! What a response to a painting titled "Finding Inspiration: First, Take A Deep Breath" which I immediately did.

  3. I put off commenting because... OK, I'll say it. I feel so illiterate. When I look at your paintings, so much goes through my head. But then I try to speak and I sound like a valley girl. There are so many conversations taking place in this. It is hard to take my eyes off it Jim.

    1. Hi Sheila,
      Wow! Thank you so much for this! It isn't necessary to say anything more. I do spend a lot of time trying to write about a painting in a way that will not edit the viewer's response to it. That is, I hope that the painting will ignite it's own conversation with the viewer. I am so pleased that it has ignited your imagination and kept you engaged in such a positive way. - Jim