Where does inspiration come from? by Alison C. Board


Artists get their inspiration from many sources, I don’t think it’s possible to cite just one as we are sponges for information every single day. There are the traditional sources such as going to galleries to see the work of old masters and contemporaries plus whatever your muse might be in the form of the landscape, people, animals etc.

While I can’t deny that those elements are important to me, they are not my primary source of inspiration at all. Two things influence me more than anything else, the first is film – movies, box sets, old, modern, anything I can watch I will, and the second is music.

Many of you will know that my super talented husband plays in a band, so most of the time I don’t have far to go to hear live music being played but we try to go and see live music as often as we can. Sometimes it is at our local pub, sometimes it is a blast from the past on a revival tour and others it is what we did on Monday.

Pearl Jam is one of America’s biggest rock bands and if you haven’t heard of them, to date they have sold over 60 million records worldwide and I spent an hour on about three different websites back in October trying to secure a pair of tickets. They sold out in record time which meant that we had ‘restricted view’ seats but that was fine, all I wanted to do was hear them!

I have to say our seats were actually some of the best I’ve ever had at the O2 and I still don’t get tired of the excitement waiting for the band to come on stage. So why would this be inspirational as opposed to just immense fun? ‘Lyrics and Lights’ is what I’m going to call it, the narrative that is woven through the performance of stellar musicians giving their all to an appreciative audience. The conjuring of images when you hear a singer laying their heart and soul through the words they have written, and the technology of lighting them to bring a spellbinding moment for twenty thousand people all in the one room.

I always come away thinking about how my paintings make me feel or how I can encourage this feeling through my teaching and so I realise that sometimes it’s not about the mechanics – the paint, the brushes and how you do it, but about the emotional part of art and our responses to it.

Therefore now I’m intrigued – what do you find inspirational that others might see as ‘not the norm’? Answers on a postcard folks…or failing that, at the bottom of this blog.

Have a great week everyone.

A Weekend of Owls by Alison C. Board

Welcome to my new blog and a new space for talking about new things. My social media and website both mainly discuss what my experiences are as a tutor, but in setting up this new blog, it seemed like a good opportunity to discuss what it’s like to be a professional working artist.

People generally have their own idea of what being an artist entails and like anything, some it will be false and some of it will be spot on. As I didn’t exactly ever have this career on my radar when I sat and chatted with my careers advisor at school, (I wanted to either be a ballerina or a speech therapist) all I can equate it to now are the standard chats at dinner parties, barbeques, in the pub etc.

Very often people get excited hearing about what I get to do for a job and I’m very grateful for that, there are plenty of unfortunately perceived ‘dull’ professions, and I get to talk about a more interesting one. The one thing that is difficult to get across to those who have no experience of painting for a living, is the CONSTANT questioning of what you do and how you do it. I’m not talking about confidence here, we all have moments where we ask ourselves if we are doing our job to the best of ability, I’m talking about the following scenario.

I held a lovely owl painting workshop at my studio this weekend, we had visiting owls (yes, really) and in a room of like-minded individuals, shared techniques and materials to satisfy all our artistic endeavours. I had conducted a full demonstration on Friday, produced a painting that was technically very passable, spent Saturday honing my new found photography skills and then was left with a little time on Sunday while others worked on their pieces. Why is this relevant? It’s relevant because I looked down at my piece of paper, mentally pushed aside every technique I had discovered in the last two years and went back to basics. One piece of watercolour paper, one brush and few colours. No fanfare of special materials, no specific techniques, no magic reveal, just good old-fashioned painting and producing something that comes from deep inside you that you can’t really explain.

Even if, by some miracle, a careers advisor helped you towards a creative path (don’t get me started on this topic), what they would never, ever be able to tell you would be that sometimes being an artist means that you have to tell yourself to forget what is at the front of your head and ask yourself the following question:

‘What happens if I don’t?’

I’ll leave that one with you…