Friday I went to see the member’s preview of the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition at SFMOMA. Wow! Two of my favorite artists side by side, I was in heaven. The show is about the enormous influence Henri Matisse had on Richard Diebenkorn. Diebenkorn was deeply inspired by the works of Matisse both from works he had seen in exhibitions as well as amassing a personal library of books. He freely acknowledged Matisse’s influence, and while I was aware of the connection, I really had no idea of the depth of it, seen in all three of Diebenkorn’s distinct phases.
Seeing so many amazing paintings in person was very inspiring. It was also really motivating to see how an artist can be completely influenced by a painter they love, yet can take that inspiration and make their work very much their own.
Since I had just visited SFMOMA a couple of weeks ago when my dad was visiting from Australia, I was solely focused on this exhibition, and so afterwards headed home and right into the studio. While I find inspiration for ideas in many things, there is nothing quite like a fabulous painting exhibition to get inspiration soaring. I’ll definitely see the show again!
The first thing I did was put up a larger canvas on my easel. While I typically worked bigger in the past, my new work has been smaller with some gradual size increases. After seeing this exhibition I was immediately inspired to work larger. The canvas is only 40 x 40 inches, but since the last painting I finished was 16 x 20 inches, it feels big. I was excited about the painting’s beginnings when I went to bed Friday night. Saturday was another full day of set painting (working even larger, I might add). The production we are currently working on is The Lion King. When I finally got into the studio Sunday late afternoon after a glorious spring run, watching my daughter’s soccer game, and losing that hour to daylight savings time (who’s complaining –I love daylight savings, but the day did go by faster!), the inspiration turned into major struggle. I often really like certain areas of paintings, and then when I next return to it, I want more than it is giving me. Consequently, lots of things get painted over. It’s just the usual artist struggle as you await the inspiration that will come rushing back when you make a mark that you really like again, even though you might change your mind about it later.
I am coming to the realization that the only way I am going to create the new paintings I want to create is by this constant push and pull of moments of inspiration followed by a lot of struggle and leaving some of this process visible. I don’t think I can make these paintings any other way. This is definitely a different way of working than the way my earlier paintings were created. My struggles were different, and I did my best to hide them. Now as I work through ideas, the process and the structure and the history is very much a part of the finished painting. This is one of the things I like so much in Diebenkorn’s work as well as Per Kirkeby’s paintings that I talk about here.
Since I’m definitely not ready to share this painting anytime soon, I thought the above image I shot on the trails evoked the title of this post.