An Inspirational Message to Welcome the New Year

Andrea Manning photoFrom the Program Coordinator

What is inspiration?

At the intersection of deep-rooted passion and motivation, inspiration is the impetus for art across all genres and mediums. We find it in the light filtering through leaves, our children, a color, in the words of our favorite writer, in love. It can be elusive, an ebb and flow of energy, powerful but ephemeral. Here one minute and gone the next. How do we harness it? How do we find it when it’s gone?

A few years ago I found myself creatively blocked. My paintings were stagnating, and my practice was becoming a labor without love. I showed up to my studio every day and slogged through painting after painting. I took no creative risks and the result was a series of repetitive paintings that were as boring to look at as they were to paint. Safe. Dull. Formulaic.

After a week of mixing colors on my palette and staring at a blank canvas I came to a realization. I was showing up to my easel everyday because I wanted to work with paint and color not because I wanted to “make paintings”. Paint itself was the inspiration. So, I eliminated traditional structural elements of a painting and began working with paint sculpturally. My productivity exploded! What could I do with just paint? What could I build with the physical embodiment of color? I experimented always, and failed often, introducing convention only when it served the work. I built with paint and color, and explored the limits of what a painting could be. This spark of inspiration ignited my practice and sustains it today.

Recently, I read “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” It reminded me of how I had built myself into a corner, limiting my own creativity and artistic growth. But creativity does not have only one mode of expression. It’s as expansive as you let it be. Free yourself up! Build only the walls you must. Act as an architect for your creativity, sculpting structure that fosters inspiration and its limitless nature.

Be bold; Be brave - Don’t be afraid to try new media, to learn from artists and creators of all kinds. Take creative risks and experiment in your work. Be unafraid of failure in the studio. What we learn from these moments often contributes to our greatest successes.

Be Dedicated - Show Up to your studio, to class, to your artistic practice. Dedicate yourself to discovery. Don’t wait for a good idea to come to you. Practice your technique, and get well acquainted with process so you can effectively harness your inspiration when it sparks!
Be Authentic - Find your unique creative voice and trust it! Approach art-making with honesty and openness. Take lessons you learn in class, from your teachers, from your peers, and from the masters, and apply the approaches that work best for you.

Connect! – Find a community to share in the creative process. Experience the transformative power of an artistic community. Exhibit your work. Every voice is an important part of the cultural conversation.

The Art League of Long Island is a rejuvenating place, with inspiration around every corner. A gallery filled with visual expressions of the human condition, of beauty, and of bold experimentation; a Faculty of visionary artists; a talented community of lifelong learners and creators. The legacy of a community created by artists for artists is a powerful thing. Here you’ll never be short on art, inspiration, or a place to share it.

-Andrea Manning