On Inspiration

Written by different authors

Alexander Volkov

Sometimes, inspiration comes while working on a painting much alike the appetite that, as we know, grows with eating or else it can be compared with going on a mushroom picking field trip. Sometimes it just hits you all out of the blue — while taking the kid to school — when the brain is not yet fully engaged with the global reality. A number of things might come helpful, like roaming aimlessly through the city, contemplating bubbling water in a canal, visiting a shared residence in an old-Petersburg-style apartment or other inspiring places like jazz and fusion sessions.

Vadim Bo

The concept of a painting sometimes takes shape on the go, when I have already started working on the painting, along with the process of its development, in the course of overlaying colour patches and accumulating material. I believe that creation of a painting should be a long process, that a painting should grow — much alike a tree or like a mineral crystal in a cave gradually evolving into a precious stone. Usually I work on several canvases at a time and slowly, one by one they transform into independent works of art. The Paintings. Symbols, signs, recognizable objects, sometimes figures gradually appear. Sometimes a plot emerges. The longer the process of creation of a painting, the more extended is the impact on the viewer. Once in a while, I understand the meaning of some of my works only after they get finished. One might say that it is my subconscious mind that makes a painting. All of the images are recognizable and can be easily read but viewers are free to interpret them differently, the way they see them.

What are those images? It's hard to say for sure. They are letters, texts, half-erased pictures, images of a pomegranate, the moon, boats (as a symbol of movement, road, and travel), an image of home, etc. Sometimes they migrate from painting to painting or may add up into series (Aliens’ Letters, Long Journey, A Place on the Earth and others). There are also symbols referring to icons or frescoes in my works, first of all, the image of the Hodegetria (the Virgin and Child as the eternal theme of motherhood). These works may also evolve into cycles (Burnt Icon, Restoration, The Other Side of the Icon, Dark Panels, etc.).

A painting will never succeed if it does not convey energy and magic and if there is no mystery in it. After all, a work of art is just a blast of steam coming out of the spout of a boiling kettle, a litmus test of the work that takes place in the artist’s mind. Therefore, it is always obvious if an artist is honest with himself or only pretending.

Vadim Kolobovnikov

I get inspired by strength. That unrestrained, vibrant energy that is present everywhere and gets expressed in color, in the emotional grip of a song, in a confrontation, in a battle.

I get inspired by nature, by its pensiveness, by its temper, by all those things you can hardly put into words, things you can only grasp while observing, smelling, sensing, soaking every single bit of the world. The boundaries between objects dim out, the sky becomes a part of the water; birds, a part of the foliage; yourself, a part of the earth. I love trees — big, wise, sophisticated, seeking out the sun and the wind, and animals, and people sometimes. I am inspired by loneliness. An in-depth conversation with yourself. Not an explanation of the reality, rather an analysis of how it is perceived.

The beginning is inspiring. A blank canvas if you will. A breath you take before you start singing or dive into the water. Complexity is inspiring. Our world is too complex for us to fail to admire it. An apple fallen from a table might bring about a meeting of two people that are meant for each other or an unseen disaster or, on the opposite, might prevent something happening. Both the chain of these events, the way they flow from each other and the end result are fascinating. This is complexity. Ambiguity.

The extremes are inspiring. Silence and outcry. Laughter and tears. Brightness and dullness. Peace of mind and madness. Simply put, no matter where you look, there’s always something that enables metamorphosis of your thoughts and development of your creativity.

Viktor Vasiliev

Francis Bacon once said in an interview that sometimes the less expected things like, for instance, the Manual of Oral Cavity Diseases, could inspire creative ideas. Back in the day, I was stunned and inspired by one of the paintings by Mikalojus Čiurlionis and after that I went through a similar experience several times. So it happened when I saw a calligraphic scroll with a poem by Du Fu, the 8th century Chinese poet. It was a large scroll of 2.0 by 0.8 meters and it was fully covered with hieroglyphs in the căoshū-style cursive script. This is a very particular style with script characters resembling flowing seaweed in the water. The scroll emanated an extraordinary power. I was very surprised to learn though that my Chinese teacher, a language scholar, an intellectual who had practiced calligraphy for six years, failed to translate this manuscript. He said he could make out only a few characters. From an inscription on one side of the scroll he was aware that it was a verse by Du Fu whose poems he loved and knew well but still he was unable to read the entire text.

In fact, in some ways the căoshū style is nothing else but a visual expression of the unconscious. Can you tell me where else we have a chance to really see the unconscious? That is exactly why the căoshū-style script is both elusive and attractive and in many cases proves unreadable ... High art is not much interested in an artist’s conscious objective unless it is supported by the artist’s essence and soul, by his true feelings, his openness and sincerity.

Anna Zholud

The rain from the sky falls, falls. That snow flakes, big drops. And soul washing toils, toils. Sometimes escapes drops. Sometimes that escapes the line steep, dotted. sometimes. Sometimes strip continuous black, my life as rope twisted and probably I fateful... And the rain from the sky falls, falls that snow flakes that big drops and soul washing is broken off sometimes spreads pools. A round dance leaves will begin to spin, and it is time to have supper probably, and heating boots in reflections, to scoop accidentally inspiration.

Mikhail Grachiov

An impulse to get started is akin to singing. Images arise when you feel good at heart. An idea to paint something may come unexpectedly or might have been nurtured for years — it varies from picture to picture. I usually make sketches with a pencil or a pen or whatever can draw or with all that together at the same time and I go on sketching until I get what I like and what corresponds to the concept of the painting. I always make stretchers and prime canvas myself. I buy canvas and then apply sizing and ground all by myself. I love the preparation routine not less than painting, it is a great pleasure for me.

I do not paint from nature — I always let it pass through the prism of my imagination first. I work on a painting for a long time, sometimes for years, to give myself time enough to reflect, to see, and to understand. Sometimes, an idea gets transformed and takes an entirely new form; sometimes nuances, unexpected aspects, or even a new vision of the material might appear. I am constantly on the lookout for a new form of image presentation since, in my opinion, it is the great form that makes and characterizes an artist.

contemporary art
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