The Travelling Artist
For the past ten days, I've been travelling in Europe, firstly in Paris, and then in Florence.
'Ten days?' I hear you ask, 'So short a time?' I know it doesn't sound very long, but it's been so densely packed with sensations (and people!) that this introvert is already suffering overload.
I can only take in so much at a time before needing solitude (and a nap), nonetheless I've absorbed the beauty of both cities, immersing myself in the architecture and atmosphere, fortified by excellent food, quantities of gelato, and the occasional drop of wine.
Unlike many artists, I don't spend time in large museums, absorbing the works of the giants of the art world. My quest is very different.
I seek architecture, angles, light;
I seek small galleries with innovative art;
I seek the play of light on alley and rooftop, on mountain and river, on textures of stone.
I feel the pace of the city as its denizens go about their daily lives, and I relish the silence of the countryside broken only by birdsong and the wind in the trees.
While I understand the desire of others to view the great works of famous artists, standing in queues to shuffle past yet another iconic image is not for me. Perhaps this sounds strange coming from an artist - and, of course, I have visited exhibitions in the past (especially Monet and Van Gogh) - but these days my quest is to feel the atmosphere of places I visit. I want to see how ordinary people live, balancing the glamour of the tourist trail with the quiet streets where everyday life is on display.
These are the places from which I draw my inspiration: a delicate mural on a nondescript wall ...
naive art on a garage door ...
… or a small sculptural fragment inset in a cafe wall ...
The serendipity of these discoveries delights me, and I squirrel them away in my photographic files and in the filing cabinet of my mind, keeping them safe until I'm ready to mine them for inspiration.
The artist's way is not linear, and it is not prescriptive; it sets its own agenda; and when we allow it to lead us where it will, we find beauty in unexpected places and material for our work.