I recently had the good fortune of being away from this Chicago winter for 11 days over the Christmas and New Year holiday. While I was giddy like a child at the thought of escaping the cold and snow; I was even giddier to heed my own holiday advice and be “in the moment” while travelling. Anyone who has seen my artwork understands that color plays a major role in it as vehicle of communication as much as inspiration. So it should be no surprise when I discovered that Chicago winters challenge my practice of art making.
We landed in Phoenix in the late afternoon and the sunshine was intense and much welcomed. I forget how blue the sky can be when not seen through the mesh screens on my studio windows during the long winters. Not to mention the longer time you can entertain looking at the sky when your hands, feet, and nose aren’t going numb from the cold. Every morning in the dessert I would race out into the street that my parents live on, look up, and just “be”. It’s quite magical to let your environment wrap itself around you, take note of the things around you, and take note of your personal boundary space. Many people feel the dessert is too brown, but the winters are when the landscape comes alive. Prickly pears are ready for harvest, lemons and oranges are getting sweeter by the day, and the grass is green on the hills.
The same holds true for Florida which is where I went after Phoenix. I was lucky enough to procure tickets to the Outback Bowl in Tampa. The bright colors of the Floridian homes, a more tropical sun, a deeper blue sky, but all that lush green made my mind flutter. I discovered my mind expands and my senses become heightened when surrounded by the color green.
I discovered, as I “canvas” through my post graduation life, that I need to be in live environments in order to do my work. My work is directly related to the botanical world around me, which is currently asleep until May’ish. I used to be able to lose myself in my photographs of flowers and plants and get inspired by them, however that doesn’t appear as easy any more. Plein air painters rave about their experiences and I believe I have a clearer understanding of their argument; sans the whole having to pick bugs off your canvas and out of your paint.
Am I alone in this feeling or do other artists require a particular environment to make work? Is there a particular environment that you need to be most creative?