Sunday, April 21, 2013

finding a muse in a long legged fisher

Whenever I finish a blog post I have a feeling of relief followed by a moment of trepidation. What will I write about next week? Will I think of anything? Nothing ever happens that’s exciting in my life, will it be interesting? These are my worries just as they are the worries of any blogger, writer or creator of music, art and whatever. Where will the next inspiration come from? They just come and one must learn to trust and get on with it.

After drawing mandalas last week I felt a bit at a loss. I was in creative mode but didn’t want to do another mandala. When stuck I look to what others have created in the past. This made me think again on the act of appropriation. Artists do it all the time. We borrow styles, techniques, subject matter and composition. Sometimes it is blatant. Sometimes it is not. Yet among artists it is seldom called appropriation. It is called inspiration or learning or following a muse. I don’t see a problem with it most of the time. I do think it important to acknowledge the muse and not to de-value an art form that has spiritual or cultural significance; dreamcatchers are one such example. 

Recently I went through an old desk calendar of artworks which I’ve kept for inspiration and instruction. I flipped through the images until I found one of a tile created by Walter Crane I liked because the colours were soothing. The subject of a heron also appealed; especially this heron which looked like a cross between a long legged fisher and flamboyant peacock.

This was just a practice piece on cheap paper to learn how another artist does their thing. I have no art gallery to go to in order to sit, study and copy masterpieces so my little calendar steps in as a half decent replacement. I knew nothing about Walter Crane before I started, so I googled him to learn a little more. Turns out he was friends with William Morris whom I did know a little about.

Now I understood why the tile had such a mediaeval look to it. William Morris, a socialist writer and designer, was against mass production but also totally enamoured by the beautiful labour intensive artwork of the Middle Ages. I had read Morris’s book News from Nowhere years ago. I’ve forgotten most of what the book is about since I read it in a hurry for a University class, but I remember it's call to appreciate items of quality made by hand. It was something I could appreciate too.

So I finished my drawing of Walter Crane’s heron/peacock and added a border not quite from the Middle Ages in homage to William Morris. The forgetfulness to leave an edge of empty paper was entirely my own dumb ass doing. Like I said this was a practice piece. I’ll know better next time.


  1. I like this a lot. And I love William Morris; and Art Nouveau and Art Deco are are both favourites of mine - oh! and the art of the Pre Raphaelites. lol. Your work reminds me of all of these. Your heron interpretation is lovely and I have just signed up to get reminders to come look at your blog. Thanks for introducing me to Walter Crane. Oh - and I like the decorative setting you gave your bird too! xx Jo

  2. Thank you! The direction I'm heading next is a severe shift away so stay tuned.