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Lyne Marshall : Inspiration and Incubation

Inspiration and Incubation from an artist's perspective.

Excerpted from the book Gleaner or Gladiator: the struggle to create © 2007 Lyne Marshall

Gleaner or Gladiator: the struggle to create by Lyne MarshallWithout inspiration, the obvious tools of creative production are of little use. Sparks that ignite creativity are found everywhere, and can arise from unrelated sources in the most unlikely places. New information triggers a desire to explore, that it will somehow link back to original ideas, that will resurface with a difference taking us closer to a desired goal. The journey of discovery may be quite frustrating but there are ways to negotiate this creative path, which is often quite erratic. Persistence, and a thirst for the knowledge, may help fill in the gaps and give direction.

In the process of searching, creative expression changes without mindful decision on the artist's part. Using intuition, rather than conscious knowledge, may seem to reduce focus and cause the outcome to be diverse, however it will flow in such a way that the integrity of the work in progress cannot be questioned. It leads to somewhere not reached by rigidity. Research will open the mind to new ideas and help the journey to be understood.

Over periods of time, the 'real' art emerged at the point of greatest creative procrastination and frustration. It was a huge relief to understand and accept that some of the difficulties experienced while painting were in fact indicative of change coming. I would unconsciously incubate ideas from research and at a crucial point in time all this 'forgotten' information would surface. Although recollection may appear hazy and inconsistent, brain research has shown that we record every detail of life in memory. Imagery actively sought out in the environment will stockpile to feed the mind and emerge at the appropriate moment.

This is reinforced by a not uncommon story. A young woman is in hospital after an accident, drifted in and out of consciousness, and is heard speaking in three different languages. It was thought she was multi-lingual but on her recovery, it is found she had no conscious recollection of two of the languages. However her family recalls they had spoken Dutch in the home while she was a young child. Before the accident, this young woman had studied Spanish briefly, but had stopped because she found it too difficult to comprehend. While recovering her brain is not controlled by conscious thought, and she is able to recall these languages and speak them fluently.

Inspiration fuels the passion to create, but learning how to express ideas into an artwork requires ongoing commitment. Recording nature's detail with a camera or pencil increases ability to see the lines, shapes and patterns in the environment and collecting found imagery, objects and text, provides sources of material to germinate ideas. At times, playing with an image on the computer has caused things to present in different ways. Working spontaneously in the studio has allowed art works to transform original ideas, so that they came together from both conscious and unconscious decisions.

In our surroundings there are resources enough for a wealth of work. Environment forms part of personal history and reflects who we are by how objects are placed and how nature responds to our presence. A whole series of paintings were triggered by a piece of rusted machinery lying in the paddock and partly covered with fallen sticks and leaves. In this object I found images that reflected the landscape. It was an artwork in itself. I took many interesting photographs at different times of the day and the sunlight and shade changed its form constantly. An old cracked concrete slab, discolored by the weather, had an interesting collection of natural objects scattered on it at random. When photographed in different light and weather it changed constantly in colour and mood. Although unaware during the painting of my Sub Rosa series, I later realised that both these objects were reflected in my work in many ways.

In producing an artwork, try not to be bothered about its future; whether it will be liked, purchased or given acclaim. The vision can be lost if these aspects are considered during creation time. Art is not different from life, it is life. The spontaneity and joy of creation can be easily stifled so it helps to work with a childlike attitude. When playing a game such as hide and seek, a child is never bored or depressed, they are excited, inspired and love playing. To be keen to get to the studio, keen to see what the day will bring, and what artwork will be produced, is the only way to be. It is like playing hide and seek every day with art creation, not knowing what is around the corner. The end result will reflect state of mind so be excited and open to chance.

Thomas Edison wrote that success was one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration, but in art creation I am sure it is a much more equal process. Steps to success include having direction, remaining focused and taking action. This comes through seeking inspiration and then allowing the inspiration to germinate ideas. There are transitional periods where there appears no direction but with maturity comes the integrity to continue. Even though artworks are not to be understood by everyone, persistence with a vision and also being part of something, is a human need. Creating art may be an isolative pursuit but the end result is communicating to many people. Results come from choosing to explore fullness of potential, and inspiration is the first step in a lifetime process of creating.

Being creative involves having a bigger picture vision that is fulfilled by gathering the seeds of thought, growing them into developed ideas and letting them flow from the brain to the hands. An artist can be inspired by taking the time to study nature carefully and try the following exercises: Take lots of digital photographs of nature, and objects in the environment, print them out and keep in folders for ongoing observation. Always be on the lookout for interesting colours and composition. Don't be concerned if these images don't relate to current work. Gather what speaks to you and excites you in some way.

Write down or keep all the things that trigger confidence and inspiration. This can be other's words, images, music and ideas. Rather than appropriate this information use it to open your mind up to possibilities and understanding. Don't attempt to reproduce what you see, but use this information to recognize the way nature uses shape, colour and line. Always be original and never follow the crowd in case you get lost. •

© Lyne Marshall 2007

Lyne MarshallLyne Marshall is an Australian artist, and the author/ illustrator of Gleaner or Gladiator: The Struggle to Create. More »