Motivation can be a finicky muse. It is deceptive, mysterious, and evasive. I found that if it is not consistently pursued, it vanishes, and the painting stops. Motivation can be as simple as the vibrancy of the deep cerulean sky, floating above a purple and green horizon line, or it can be as complex as the line of people waiting to get into a small doorway. Traditionally the muse has been described as he female form, soft and sanguine, gently lit and inevitably beautiful. I started there in those long ago figure classes. A nameless model contorted into traditional and contemporary poses. An instructor strolling about the studio encouraging us to look, to see, he recites, “Ignore what you know a naked woman looks like and draw the nude woman in front of you,” for months, like a mantra, that’s what we hear as we learn to look. For a time the entire world belongs to the muse on the podium. She breathes, she moves, she casts shadows and reflects light. She is alive and we borrow her life for a time as we learn to see and translate that vision to our paper and canvas.
In time we see more, we feel more, we translate some mixture of what we see and what we feel. That is the beginning of our relationship with the muse, and that is the birth of motivation and those first questions and puzzles. I remember a when I first discovered the source of the rhythms and movements I had seen on the canvases I admired in the galleries of the MFA. The shapes of Matisse and Picasso were real and right in front of me. Michelango’s distortions, Rubens rhythmic volume, and even to a certain extent, the emoting colors of Vincent Van Gogh. The muse spoke to me as I began to use the vocabulary I would continue to discover and will use for the rest of my painting days. And it is so, that each new painting begins for me continuing all that came before and sparking what will someday be.