Artists and Their Muses

What is a Muse?

Image by Michael Drummond

According to the dictionary, a muse is:

  1. (from Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, who were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
  2. as a noun, it means a person – usually a woman – who is a source of artistic inspiration.

Artists and creative persons have, for centuries, referred to their muse either with great affection or with great despair. It all depends on whether the creative person is having a good day, week, month… or not.

Muses, it seems, can be very fickle.

Do I Have a Muse? Do You?

I think all creative people have someone or something that inspires them. So, yes, I think I have a muse… probably more than one. Are they female? Are they real or spiritual? Do they show up in human form or in the form of an animal? Is it in the form of nature?

I am my own muse, the subject I know best.
Frida Kahlo

Nature’s my muse and it’s been my passion.
Frans Lanting

I have, for years, told my cats that they are my muses. When I’m painting, one or more finds the need to watch what I’m doing or curl up and nap somewhere near. Having them around when I’m painting does, in fact, relax me and that feeling lets the creative juices flow… until they start wrestling with each other, which leads to at least one getting pissed off, which does tend to interrupt my artistic flow.

That’s when my muses get the boot from the room. At that point, they have ceased to be “musing” or “amusing”.

Clear Your Mind, Let Your Muse In

Whatever your inspiration is or wherever it comes from, you won’t hear it or be inspired by it if your mind is cluttered… and we all have been feeling the effects of “mind clutter” since this darn Covid 19 came on the scene.

I read the comments of many other artists in various social media groups. Often I see that people are not feeling motivated (inspired) right now, but that happens even in the best of times. Clear your mind. Find your happy place. Let your muse in.

Three Muses 2020

Your muse or muses, your sources of inspiration, have NOT left you. It’s just hard to hear them right now.

Probably because they are wearing a mask.

Hang in there and focus on hearing what’s being said. Your inspiration is still speaking to you.

Painting Trees: The Tree Amigos

I love trees. I find myself including them more and more in my paintings, which is a real change for me because I never felt good at doing so in the past. However, you know what they say about practice. Thousands of people regularly paint trees so obviously there’s a lot of practice going on. Painting trees is hugely popular with artists. So many interpretations! Trees are also a popular subject with poets and other writers.

Advice From A Tree

Stand tall and proud.
Sink your roots into the earth.
Be content with your natural beauty.
Go out on a limb.
Drink plenty of water.
Remember your roots.
Enjoy the view.
– Ilan Shamir

The Tree Amigos: It Didn’t Start This Way!

When I started this one, I had no intention of painting trees. It actually began with the idea of a rainy day and a child under an umbrella. That’s all. No trees. Just a little girl ( which became two) under a large umbrella. And that’s what I did! I had mixes of blues, violets, grays, whites on my palette and with my palette knives, laid on my background then when dry enough, added the figures. However, the composition bothered me. Therefore, I swiped through it all, removed a lot of the paint, and in the chaos of colors I saw a street scene. I worked that idea for a while, but didn’t like that either. It just didn’t speak to me. Actually it did speak to me… it said “noooooo”. So I scraped and wiped and re-swiped the colors and sat back and just looked at it for several minutes. That’s when I started seeing trees in the shapes. Trees and water and sky. So I started developing the shapes and moving colors around. In the end, I had a painting of three trees which I finally named The Tree Amigos.

Speaking of Trees

If you google it, you’ll find that there are over 60,000 tree species in the world. The ten most common in the U.S. are the Red Maple, the Loblolly Pine, Sweetgum, Douglas Fir, Quaker Aspen, Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir, Flowering Dogwood, Lodgepole Pine, and the White Oak.

A lot of lovely subjects if you like painting trees. I guess I had better get to practicing.

The Amazing Colors of Fall

I love Fall. The gradual change in weather, the gradual change in the landscape. The way the trees and bushes begin to dress themselves in their Autumn colors… while the mortals in their midst do the same. Even if you are not a cool weather person, you have to admit the colors of Fall are just spectacular. They are some of my favorite hues to paint with. Even when it’s not Fall.

Fall Leaves (mixed media)

Too bad some of you are missing it. Fall. Not by choice, but because Mother Nature seems to have decided to skip it this year. Or at least delay it. Here in North Texas, we went from summer temps to a few days of cold, back to summer temps, a few hours of Spring, then an arctic front blew in, and if the forecasters are correct… we’ll be back to Spring again in a few days.

It’s kind of hard to figure out what to wear from day to day (hour to hour?) and I think everything in the landscape is just as confused as we are. Summer colors or Fall colors? Leaves on or leaves off? What season are we in? Luckily, the last cold snap has gotten things started. Nature’s palette is finally changing. The amazing colors of Fall are beginning to show. Especially within the trees. They are glorious with color right now. How I envy those states where the trees go on for miles and miles with the colors of Fall beautifully displayed.

I think, as adults, we often tend to lose the wonder of what is presented this time of year. The amazing colors of Fall are lost on us because we either take it for granted or all we focus on is whose yard those leaves are in… and who’s gonna have to rake it all up. Confession: Here where I live, when the leaves come down in the yard… if we wait a few hours… the wind will change and it’ll get blown into the neighbor’s yard. Of course, then the neighbor does the same thing, and a few hours later, the wind blows it all back! It’s a game of who blinks first.

I encourage you to let your inner child come out, or better yet, take a child with you, and go find a few leaves that are in the transition change (on a tree, bush, plant, the ground) and take a really close look. Some of them will have colors that merge so beautifully that they look like they were painted by the hand of an artist. Greens, yellows, reds, oranges, purples. Sometimes all on one leaf!

The amazing colors of Fall. Don’t take too long to look though, the way things have been changing lately, you might miss it.