Location: marengo, il, United States

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Inspired, and Lovin' it

Someone asked me, “What inspires you?”

Let me start over. (delete, delete, delete)

(I asked that to myself; it was not some mysterious “someone”. Who am I kidding? I do this mainly to have some valid reason to sit here and vainly try to appear intelligent and busy.)

Au kay, gifted Way. Share your thoughts with the blog, big boy.

Well. Many things inspire me. Unfortunately after I list a few things that have given me ideas in the past, some of my faithful hundreds (delete) dozens (delete) eight wise (delete) four imprisoned-and-held-at-gun-point readers may quit and give up. This ain’t gunna be fancy stuff, so ya’ll grab a moon pie and a pop open a Coca-Colar, and then settle in comfortable-like “fer a spell”.

To the point, the simplest of things inspire.

A withered leaf (thanks, Mad! Look what I stole now), a pesky fly, me alone, or you and I.

Hmm. That poem needs work.

Several blogs back (did you realize that Blog is not an acceptable English word to Word? I am slowed down bad enough with the red squigglies the anal thing throws up. Enough, already!) I wrote about my good friend, Blake. In that story I described one of my first successful paintings. That painting came about thusly, and will account for the withered leaf that hangs above.

Some history is needed first.

My job at Headquarters Marine Corps in 1968 called for me to catalog original art received from Vietnam. I had recently been assigned to a storage facility of the Combat Art Gallery located in Arlington, Virginia. My immediate superior, a captain in the Marines, had just returned to the States from a short tour where he served as a combat artist in that war. He and I got along well. I already had a limited knowledge of art, so he encouraged me to try my hand at painting after I expressed some interest.

I gladly took up his offer, and so on this certain Saturday, a normal day off for us all, I left my home and drove across the bridge from the Maryland side, cut through a seedy section of Washington, and ended up parking my car right at the back loading door of the Gallery. I mention the last part because parking anywhere within a hundred miles of Washington, D.C. is next to impossible during the workweek, but on weekends the place becomes deserted.

I get out of my Olds and shut the door. Then I turn around to go inside where I shall soon create me a painting. That was all that was on my mind at the time; nothing more. I had no plan other than being alone with an easel and a single wall-locker filled with every painting medium known to man. Those were enough to keep me busy thinking positively.

But when I turned around after shutting the car door, I met an oak leaf. The oak leaf, brown and dulled by a change in the seasons, hung forlornly from the tip-end of a low-hanging branch, and the thing almost hit me square in my eye. Impulsively, and for no more rational reason than, “Hey, this might come in handy for something”, I reached up and broke off the branch, careful not to disturb or destroy the eight or so leaves still attached.

Inside, I placed a large canvas near a wall. I saw a shop light unplugged on a framing table, so I plugged it in and aimed the bright light at the wall. Noticing the shadows it cast gave me another idea. I snapped a quick black-and-white Polaroid shot of the branch, slipped the one-minute photograph in an over-head projector someone had left in a corner, grabbed a sharp pencil and roughly sketched in the leaves to depict them hanging naturally. The whole process went from there to a finished painting in less than two hours.

But the inspiration started with a leaf.

Time flies, and so the fly must wait for now. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for your own “withered leaves”.


Blogger Gone Away said...

Smart man, that Way. It's in the details, the details...

2:56 PM  

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