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Artist responses from emailing to Open Studio. Artists talk about their inspiration.


Inspiration Source: hard work

Your Name:Anthony Holdsworth
Your Webpage:

 Your Comments: I am not the kind of artist who waits for or feels the need for inspiration. I have always worked hard at my painting. I have found that when I focus my attention and my energies I enter the painting and an exchange takes palace between me and the work. So that I know what I have to do. There is only one way to proceed and that way is exhilarating. Caught up in this exhilaration is an intense apprehension of light. The subject matter itself is often irrelevant. Though usually the more ordinary it is the better.
But this state of 'inspiration' almost never comes to me. I have to seek it out by absorbing myself in painting. It's the reason I paint. I'd probably be homeless if I could achieve this state by waiting around.
I discovered this in my high school painting class when I was introduced to oil paints by my art teacher Loring Coleman. But it took me a few years, until I was twenty-two, to realize that I couldn't live without this heightened experience of reality.


Inspiration Source:  from everywhere, lots of insights.

Wendy Meg Siegel

I guess you could say I got inspired to write to is what I wrote when I reflected on the theme of inspiration... good luck with your project and let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional information. I wrote it thinking of inspiration in relationship to artwork but the same is true with other aspects of our lives, not just with art.


Inspiration IS is all around me. It is in the air, in every color, in every shape. Anything and everything can inspire. It can be found in any moment and in every cell within my being. Inspiration is an unlimited, ever present experience that never is depleted.

Time and space are the only limits as to the manifestation of that inspiration into form.

The flow of inspiration is continuous. There is an ebb and flow to the intensity of the inspiration. There seems to be times of heightened inspiration in which more ideas for new paintings and new artforms come at a rapid fire rate, usually without the time and opportunity to produce them all. At these times I receive a flow of ideas that is so intense that if I didn't have a family and I didn't need sleep to function I would choose to be creating nonstop, 24 hours a day. Times like this are so energizing and filled with bright lights and colors. It is like my veins have been filled with an effervescent compound and the excitement is almost overwhelming.

Not that this excitement does not come to me in any moment at other times. Just the process of working and being open to the new ideas that are sparked during the creation of new pieces. And oh, how exciting to allow the flow of ideas from one series of artwork to the next. They all lead to what is coming next. So being in the flow of work is one of the greatest inspirational triggers that there is.

Inspiration comes while walking down the street, brushing teeth or washing my face. In the simple things of life. everything has a form and any form can be translated to your individual style and artform.

I know that for me there are times that it is best to step back from the work and process life and rest from the creative process. And then when I am renewed it is time to go back.. out of this comes more inspiration. I would guess to some, if one were to push themselves to create during these times. it may be difficult and appear as if their inspiration were missing. My feeling is that there are times to create and times to step back as in everything in life and it is important to go with the flow. Of course, I have a huge amount of creative energy and have a history of abundant inspiration therefore I have reason to fully trust in the flow of new ideas. This trust must be one of the keys, along with allowing the flow to take you where it will. It is a wonderful ride.


Inspiration Source: secondary to the primary idea

anthony capadona []

SF open studios photogarpher

Inspiration is a moment when all things are secondary to the primary idea. The idea is that which can be defined or undefined. Inspiration is somewhat of a pleasure mixed with feeling. It is what drives me to live. It is a perspective. It is something to look for. Inspiration is related to imagination.


Inspiration Source:  from life's struggle

carolyn crampotn

SF open studios

this is like the book that I would write if I have time...similar. Of course since we are open studio artists we are a little busy right now.

I think it comes from a somewhat squelched childhood that even with the aid of adult therapy keeps resonating, keeps me hungry or wanting for a voice. I grew up in the 50s a household with a domineering life-of-the-party mom. We were to be seen and not heard. Our daddy drowned in a horrible scene which my mother couldn't really relate to me until just this summer. My mother was single most of her life. My older sister and I had 2 stepfathers, one of whom was sexually abusive. He once told me he'd bury me in the backyard if I ever told. I had many other problems with male sexual predators as I grew was constant.

So I was a quiet, good child. I rebelled later, leaving home, putting myself through college rather than take 'their' money, starting a punk band--even being an artist wasn't an acceptable thing to my family. My highschool counselor told me I'd be a mechanical engineer...but since I was a woman that was out of the question. My college art admittance office told me they didn't want women in the art program because they just get married. I had to promise him I wouldn't get married.

This sense of the world as being for being shut-out in every way, as being not safe is something that still drives my artwork. My environmental landscapes are a way of speaking up for the wildlife and the environment which cannot speak for themselves, as a way of protecting something that can't protect itself. My figure paintings are generally about sexual abuse in some way. My audience is for a younger version of myself who longed for a role model or someone who could understand me. I feel like there generations worth of silenced voices inside me that need to be expressed.

Art will never be about money for me. I'd like to make a living at it, esp. now that I have been laid-off from my day job, but it's really a vocation, a mission, or a way of knowledge for me. I don't have a choice whether or not to be an artist.






 * Do you have any specific stories of when you felt inspired?



 *Do you remember the first time you felt inspired as a child?



 * What is your definition of Inspiration?



 * How do you cultivate Inspiration?



 * What inspires you?



 * What does the experience of Inspiration feel like?




Loss of Inspiration


I looked at your posting and got a good idea of the scope of your work. I was inspired just to see what you are doing. There is mystery in the topic.

I have been thinking a lot about the subject and was trying to define inspiration by what usually kills it in me. The potential of full expression of my talent gift is what causes it. What kills it is events, input and situations that obfuscate the fulfillment of the original essential vision and the almost immortal bliss that true inspiration brings. One creative soul stated, "Once you begin to allow your true self to emerge, you reclaim your passion and your inspiration follows." I thought this was germane to the essence of what I was feeling.

I will have my inspiration killed by a client or patron of my art when the subject of money comes up. I rarely loose inspiration from problems I have in the process of making art. It is usually lost by interacting with spiritual and/or inequitable interference. My inspiration can be maintained by positive affirmation at all levels of the creative process, reminding myself that creative expression is plastic, often amorphous and above all a process...and that only I have the honor and charge if saying when I am finished creating.

Note: When I was a teen in the late 50's, Picasso was an outrageous mad man artist, his work of the period was bizarre and beyond anything anyone in my little home town could fathom. I thought it ugly. Then as a mature artist I visited the Picasso Museum in Paris. I saw the chronological progression of his work. Along side the work that was so outrageous in the 50's was an collection of African Masks with traces of color. What mystified me before now hit me so clearly. He had transitioned from Cubism and merged it with Primitivism in is solo act of creation. It was a peak experience for me as an artist to see where he had gotten his inspiration. I view his work now with respect and see the elegance in what he was doing. Ed Penniman


Inspiration Source:  life on or near the beach

Judi Gorski

SF open studios

Thanks for contacting me. I don't really have much time to participate  thoroughly in what you are doing, but I find it intriguing.

 I am a painter. I live and work in the outer sunset district in a piece of property that is waterfront to the Pacific Ocean. On calm, sunny days I ride my bicycle along the bike path up toward the Cliff House and look for people who are enjoying their day at the beach. If  I see someone who is dressed particularly colorfully or who is doing something (preparing to go surfing, swimming, taking a dog for a swim, ...) I might stop and photograph them. I use this material for subject matter in my paintings. It is the life that gathers
around the beach that seems to inspire me. I have an inner connection to this environment and when I see others enjoying themselves in this same spot that I love so much, to me, they are a picture that expresses my happiness and gratefulness to live in such a beautiful place. My paintings, whether realistic, impressionistic or abstract are pretty much about life on or near the beach, and this source of inspiration hasn't run out for me for quite some time.
Hope this helps. Feel free to call me, or e-mail more ... or come by the studio. By the way, if you read this in time, tomorrow, Wednesday, between 6:30 and 7:30 pm on Channel 29 (some obscure local community channel) there will be some talk about my artwork as well as pictures of it, if you're



Inspiration Source: Dreams

Averell Design Services
Artist's Statement - Sue Averell
Since 1999 I have been making paintings that reflect in some way both my current home in Northern California and my roots in Southern California. Because I grew up just outside of San Diego, I was heavily influenced by the culture of nearby Mexico. As a child, the bright, bold colors used in Mexican art and design seeped into my consciousness and Ive used a similar palette in my work ever since. As an adult, my aesthetic sensibility was further solidified when I discovered an affinity with the work of painters Wayne Thiebaud and David Hockney. Like Thiebaud, I use bright colors, blue shadows, complimentary color schemes, and the tint, tone, and shade method of mixing paint. And like Hockney, I employ color and pattern in a patchwork effect that actively leads your eye around the surface of the painting. So when I moved north to San Francisco in 1993, I brought these same artistic sensibilities to my new surroundings and applied it to the city itself. The houses, the office buildings, and the billboards that populate my paintings may not be actually alive, but I animate them with bold color and loose lines in order to convey the pulse of energy I feel coursing throughout this city. The dynamic pace of life in San Francisco sustains and inspires me as an artist.
The aerial perspective in my paintings of San Francisco comes from dreams I have regularly in which I fly on my own power through the city. Since I was five years old, I have had such dreams of defying gravity. It dawned on me that I could paint this dream world when I stood in front of a large canvas by David Hockney at the Los Angeles County Museum. I felt like I could walk into his world of tweaked perspective, and I became determined to find a way to do this in my own work. I deliberately choose compositions with high horizon lines that exaggerate the steep slopes of the hills in San Francisco, in order to give you the sense of swooping down into the city in a free dive of pure play, like a bird looping through the sky on a joyride. Its no coincidence that I taught myself to paint as a child by painstakingly copying the illustrations in John James Audubons book of birds. All these years later, it seems fitting that the theme of flight has again resurfaced in my work.
Even the process of creating these images can be compared to flying. As a professional illustrator, I am well-trained to render the visual world with utmost accuracy. When I paint these cityscapes as a fine artist, I am not required to stick to depicting the optical reality of what I see, but rather I can take expressive liberties and work in a style that is fast, loose, and fun. In a way, you could say I am breaking free of the gravity of strict realism and flying freshly liberated into a sky of unlimited creative horizons. I hope you enjoy yourself as you join me in entering the celestial space in my paintings to flit among familiar and beloved landmarks in this wonderful city.



Inspiration Source: simply be me, new music, nature, read, new art, honesty.

Katharina Short

Sounds like an  interesting project you are working on. one that has many interesting facets to it. I would be happy to respond .
My definition of inspiration varies form day to day. some days it is what is happening politically in the world. i create to work my way out of the corners that i feel the media and society tries to sell us. The idea that we have to be scared, or frightened for example, will prompt me to create a piece which explores the opposite of fear, complete trust and openness...
i cultivate inspiration by reminding myself that to be inspired is to be open. when i come too close to being too opinioned and weighted in my life, i fail to see the truer beauty of life, which in my opinion is the balance between the extremes in all areas. Inspiration is cultivated by honesty, and simplicity.
The experience of inspiration feels like a wind picks me up and lofts me out beyond the normal every day trivialities of life. Being inspired comes form allowing myself to connect with other peoples' life stories, and respecting the link of all people. it is like a web running through all life, elevating perspective to see the better more healing ways of creating life...? make sense. geez, i hope
When i am not inspired i often feel like i am in a dark tunnel trying to find my way. when i am not inspired i am trying too hard to push the agenda of being an artist, of having to create. Rather , it is better to simply be me and let it come through me.
If  I loose my sense of inspiration, i often will stop and regroup for a while. i will listen to new music, regroup in nature, read, see new art, try to find my center, and honesty again. it happens about once a year, and often I forget that it is cyclical, and all i have to do is recognize it.
I turn my inspiration into art by doing what I have always done and that is to trust blindly that I really shouldn't question it anymore.

Inspiration Source: work related,

Your Name: Barbara Schubert
Your Email:
Your Webpage:
Your Comments:

My work is generally inspired by words. A series that I recently finished I wanted to be illustrations for an alphabet book. So I thought about what image can I use for "A" , "B", etc.? Other works have been inspired by competition titles such as "Earth, Air, Fire, and Water" or "Naked." This is one level of inspiration the more conscious one. My other source of inspiration which is less conscious and intentional is my life as a stay-at-home-all-the-time mom and wife. I'm ambivalent about my traditional role and this ambivalence is a source of the emotions and expressions in my work and also gives me the basic content of my "illustrated domestic scenes with a twist."
Inspiration for me really does feel like that cliché of a light bulb turning on. I'll see a sentence or phrase or word or (less often) feel an emotion and a picture will pop into my mind. Then the trick comes of getting what's in my head onto paper. It never comes out exactly the way I picture it but I am usually happy with the result. I think my satisfaction comes because there are always feeling there that get expressed and come through loud and clear even if the image isn't quite "right." The feelings might be the boredom of ironing or the exasperation of getting a toddler dressed. Somehow I think the feelings may be deeper than that because a lot of people relate to my art not just people who have raised kids or done housework.
When I'm not feeling inspired I feel terrible. I feel like I'll never draw again. I feel that all my "material" is used up and if I do draw again it will just be hackneyed and trite. Usually its just at this point that inspiration will hit again and I'll turn out a decent piece.
My work is very medium driven. I do pen and ink drawings. Sometimes pen and ink and pastel. And I have to do drawings. I've tried painting and although one of my favorite pieces is a painting I have far more "failures" with paint. I'll do one good one or almost good one and then many lousy ones that don't "work." With drawing this has yet to happen. Some are better than others and a very few are really good. But there aren't any (yet) that I just wouldn't show. Well, that's not quite true I did 26 drawings before I started my current body of work of which I'd only show about 10. Hopefully by talking about it publicly I won't "jinx" it and lose all my inspiration and ability and the "roll" I'm on. I guess deep down I'm a bit superstitious about my work in the sense that I'm not confident that my talent will last.


Inspiration Source:: from nature

Morris Taylor

Thank you for including me in the initial survey regarding the inspiration of artists. For some time I have also been interested in this topic. It may be that I can be of some use to your research and presentation. You may view my web site at My work is drawn from nature and my present work is tilted towards the preservation of the environment.

My professional background included the performing arts as a pianist, a Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University. Included in this degree is a cognate minor in art history. My current interest in the visual arts has resulted in five one person shows in the last two years.



Inspiration Source:  Acknowledging that energy

Sharla Flock

sf open studios

Greetings to you Edwin,
I am getting back to you on the topic on Inspiration. First let me say that I appreciate you contacting me and am excited to hear about your project! Good luck with it!
As for my thoughts on Inspiration......
I am not sure that I could even find the correct words to describe that " feeling" you get. The essence of that intangible "feeling" is what I consider to be my Inspiration. To be truly connected to who you are and in a space that nurtures your creativity. Having an energy that comes from deep within. Acknowledging that energy, your spirit, is the necessary ingredient for inspiration. For years I was not in that space and didn't feel passionate about creating. I felt that I was truly missing something in my life. I was not nurturing my true spirit. Now that I am creating again I feel truly inspired to paint. The more I paint, the more I have to paint. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get all my ideas out onto canvas. I have reclaimed my spirit, my passion, inspiration. It is a lifecyle. The more you don't listen to your inner spirit, denying yourself that which makes you who you are, you will not experience inspiration. Once you begin to allow your true self to emerge, you reclaim your passion and your inspiration follows. One cannot exist without the other. Commitment to self, honoring your gifts, your talent, and your passion =
That pretty much sums it up for my ideas about inspiration. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Again, best of luck with your project!


Inspiration Source:  beautiful visageforeign films, Words, people I know.

Your Name: Cary Silberman
Your Email:
Your Webpage:
Your Comments:  

Inspiration can not be quantified in any time or space continuum. It comes from many things such as looking at a beautiful visage or a unique juxtaposition of colors and textures.

The first time I was inspired was when I viewed foreign films on public TV. The Europeans seem to understand character and form better than we do. Simplicity in form or color can be inspiring by itself. Words can inspire and people I know inspire me to create.


Other Comments;


notes: problem with  inspiration

Wynne Hayakawa []

Dear Edwin--

    I have a problem with the word and the concept, inspiration.



notes: bulfighting

  kate leffler []

  1. Dear edwin ,
  2. Hi, not sure how to answer the thing you sent as i cant seem to get it in order and numbers keep coming up.
  3. I'm an armature bullfighter and that is my inspiration.
  4. I will grant you an interview upon further data on the nature of your video project.
  5. Please e-mail me
  6. PS Im an oil painter



Michele Giulvezan-Tanner

Some people go to exotic places or travel to unfamiliar lands for inspiration. I never stray far for my inspiration, it is all contained inside of my head, from direct observation. My inspiration comes from both past and present. People and things that are the common essence of my life. I am an observer of the most ordinary and mundane objects and people of our time period. I paint what is common. That is truly what our lives our made of. Yes I would be willing to video taped.


biba djordjevic

 * What is your definition of Inspiration? For me, inspiration is the reason for the enterprise.
 * What inspires you? Usually things that trigger some reaction in me.
 * What does the experience of Inspiration feel like? I feel unstoppable, righteous and have a fresh perspective on life.
* How do you feel when you are not inspired? Empty and boring.
 * How do you give your Inspiration a form, i.e. turn it into art? By materializing thought or emotion.
* What's the relationship between Perspiration/Work and Inspiration?Usually, through work inspiration comes. All of the sudden new paths open  and you know it was worthed.
* What question would you ask about Inspiration? How to keep it alive?


Artist's Statements


Dan Smith (415) 551-8134
62 Diamond St. 
S. F, Ca. 94114-1932

Artist's Statement
The earliest art I remember is wood block prints. In the small town of Fusa, Japan where I lived they hung in many shops. The bold, economical lines have stayed with me to this day. Later I saw a full size reproduction of Toyo Sesshu's Long Scroll, which he completed in 1486. With pencil I endeavored to recreate this most wondrous of works and in doing so found my soul. I spent the next 10 years living and loving the art of Asia. I fell in love with gothic sculpture and painting while traveling across Europe visiting churches and museums. One day wandering through the Louvre I came unknowingly upon the Mona Lisa and cried. I had found the art of Europe. The richer colors and more complicated shades of that continent entered my works. A year later a friend insisted I visit an exposition with 1500 of Picasso's works at the Petit Palace. I went, not liking modern art. That is until I saw Picasso's "Gertrude Stein in Brown." Not since Sesshu's Long Scroll had I seen the map of reality so plainly painted.
Now I no longer try to paint a photo of a rose but rather the prick and memory of a rose. Since those early years I've seen many paintings and learned much that has informed my own art. For example Zhao Meng Fu's Autumn Colors on the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains. He created it in the style called Bland. From him I learned to be simple and clear relying on the subject matter to move an observer and not a frivolous or ornate turn of brush. Also the joy and exuberance of Norman Rockwell delights me and will find a place in my art.