This oil painting was inspired by Psalm 36: 5-7 “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies… You, Lord, preserve both people & animals…. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
Sometimes I go looking for inspiration by trolling through my memories, searching for Scripture, looking at photographs, or by making lists of things that I feel would fit the collection I’m working on. That was true of the “Wings of Heaven” painting. I wanted something sky related and I looked for Scripture to give me ideas.
Other times, I paint from the heart after hearing music that stirs me, upon recalling a person or event, or after seeing something historic in the public sphere. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t seem to matter if I paint from my imagination, from looking at a personal photo, if using a stock photo as a reference, or any other source of inspiration- it makes no difference to YOU, the person I’m communicating with through my art.
I’ve found that you will respond to some paintings more strongly and intimately than others, but you are all very different in your tastes. You do not respond differently based on what has inspired me, or anything to do with me. Well, except for those of you whose spiritual strength is tied to empathy and therefore you respond more strongly to what you sense is meaningful to the artist… but that’s not because the art itself jumps out as “better” than the other works. It’s because of how you connect to others.
I have found it frustrating that I can’t predict what you want from me or plan my paintings based on what will be more popular, because I’ve found fans for virtually EVERY painting I’ve ever done, without much difference in popularity. Some of the paintings I don’t like, my own daughters will choose those instead of the ones that I think are my best. Of all the people on the planet, surely I’m the most similar to my own children- yet we don’t see my paintings the same way. How can I possibly expect to find universal agreement among people I’ve never met?
Some subjects are more popular than others, and some of my paintings have a controversial or emotional pull, but in the end, that doesn’t carry much weight when it comes to what you want to see from me. So, this has been a struggle, until I realized how off course I was in being overly concerned about what people want from me. It is a mistake I’ve made often throughout my life.
It’s FREEING to know that you don’t seem to care much what I paint, as long as I keep doing it. You will turn up as you wish, and you’ll connect with my work in unpredictable ways. One man specifically wanted me to one day paint a puffin, and I decided that it would fit in well with my plans for the 2021 collection about Nature. Another guy wanted a painting of redwing blackbirds. Several like my cardinal paintings, others like the eagles best. So you’d think that everyone likes birds then, right? No. They each had personal reasons for why these particular birds mean something to them. And, some people choose flowers. Others like angels. And many like it when I do something unexpected, like a piano or a frog.
I will stop trying to guess what you want, as your life is uniquely yours and you have your reasons for why some paintings draw you in and others don’t do much for you. You might not even know why you like certain things and feel nothing for others- you simply do or don’t. So I will keep painting and sharing, and I’ll let the language of art speak to you in your own way. It’s best for me anyway- it means I can simply paint what I’m inspired to paint, just as I’ve always done.