The serendipitious nature of art inspiration

Having worked as a creative in the advertising industry for 20 years, it was always a bit of a mystery where the creative idea came from.

I remember my 16 year old nephew doing work experience with me and he went home after a week to tell his father that for a job I drank coffee, went for walks, sat around and talked and read magazines.

And it was true. A lot of the creative process is about drinking in new things. Talking about unrelated things. Looking at new images. Feeding on the world at large and then going back to the brief and seeing what floated up.

It can’t be forced. It can’t be cajoled. And contrary to 90% of advertising copywriters and art directors, it can’t be found at the bottom of a beer glass. Though many of us tried that method, amongst other things.

arthur-boyd
Nedbuchadnezzar in a clearing, Arthur Boyd, 1969, oil on board.

Recently we drove down toward the mouth of the Shoalhaven River. We live near the source of the river. At Bundanon, is the magnificent property of the magical Arthur Boyd.

It was there I saw this work, Nedbuchadnezzar in a clearing. I was really taken by the darkness of the forest, how that blackness ate up the left hand side of the canvas.

Weeks later, I turned around a work in my studio that I had facing the wall because I hated it. I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t know what to do with it.

dont-go-out-after-dark

That’s it, top-left. Stupid purple background. Stupid candles. It never really made sense to me. Then it pinged into my head that the candles were like the tall, straight trunks of eucalyptus trees. The tall dark trees reminded me of Bundanon and the work by Boyd.

That was all I needed. A little bit of percolation in my mind. The purple turned to green and blue. The candles became a burned out, ashen forest. And there nestled in the trees was the hairy man, the evil being ready to snatch children away. A nod to my fear of the dark as a child – and to the red-eyed raven in Boyd’s paintings.

Finally the work made sense – finally I was happy with it.

Don’t go out after dark, collage and synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 2017 by Ray Monde.

 

 

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