Blank Slate

I am often asked, “What is the inspiration, the driving force behind your work?” It’s an answer I find difficult to articulate. People want specifics. They don’t want, “That’s how I felt on Thursday.” Some can be downright pesky with their questions and don't respond well to a smart ass pretentious artist answer. The problem grows in that it’s not always the same from piece to piece. Sometimes there is something very specific.  Sometimes it’s just a state of mind.  Sometimes its a physical energy.  It’s never the same and it can change between start and finish. It’s hard for me to explain, but I’m accepting that people viewing my work want and need to know more. 
So here is one version…

72x42 Canvas

A very large canvas sits on my easel.  It’s white emptiness is glaring at me and I can’t turn away.  This is how it starts.


Just a lot of nothing.  A lot of staring, building images in my mind, gathering an emotional state until the urge to grab a brush is overwhelming. This is my favorite beginning.  It is raw and pure expression. I can stare at the white expanse for days and even weeks before the right moment emerges.  When it does, I am consumed.  Long sessions at the easel followed by even longer sessions of more staring.  Then there is the day after.  After I’ve stood for hours in constant connection.  I am exhausted.  My spirit is drained.  When it is finished, I’ve been known to spend the day in tears. Holding onto so much for so long needs release.  So I cry. 
This intense connection doesn’t happen with every piece, but I can tell when it is.  This very large canvas has been prepped for many months.  It has sat patiently by the wayside as I finished up other pieces…as I readied myself. I often ran my hand along it’s face as I entered my studio.  Just connecting with one another. I’ve thought long and hard and waited.  Even as I sit at my desk with my easel to my back, I feel it behind me.  It is a beckoning urging me to put myself in it. There is this consumption of spirit that is akin to a depression, but its the blank canvas wanting a piece of my mind, wanting me to retreat within. When things go well, I look at a piece and know I translated the image in my head, the feeling in my gut. When things go poorly, I paint over it and start again. 

And sometimes…

I just fucking paint.

 ©2011 Cindy K. Shaw All Rights Reserved