Thoughts & Inspirations
. . . thoughts about art, inspiration & process
| 28 April, 2017 11:31
Being away from the studio can be frustrating for an artist. Whatever the reason it often feels like an intrusion, an imposition, just one more obstacle on your creative path. Like it or not though, daily life intervenes and yes these interruptions come daily! Despite your best intentions of spending the day in the studio you look up at the clock only to realize the entire morning has just slipped past you. While you were paying the bills, ordering more supplies, corresponding with others regarding all sorts of matters, playing just one more game of WWF, or working on your latest promotional marketing piece, filling out the forms for that juried show, or photographing your work to submit with those forms, time was swiftly flowing past and away. Additionally, there are those bigger life events that bar you from visiting the studio: weddings, funerals, major birthday celebrations, much needed vacations, visiting an ailing friend, etcetera. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
So it is, but rather than fight it, or worse yet, use it as an excuse for not exercising my creative muscle I decided to embrace these diversions. It is an opportunity to be observant of different places, to view the patterns and textures around me that are not seen in my studio. I watch the play of light and shadow in these new environments. I listen to the words, the phrases, the laughter and the sorrow of life’s events and weave them into my consciousness so when I do return to the studio I have an expanded arsenal of imagery and concepts to explore. Like so many of us, I steal a few moments to sketch an image, jot down an idea, a word or a phrase that “triggered something” hoping to preserve that inspiration until I can explore it with undisturbed focus. As a result I have developed a personal practice of doodling. I will sit for whatever amount of time that I can “steal” and draw. Usually I start with a little automatic mark making which is followed by more intentional drawing as an image suggests itself. These images can sometimes be a bit representational but most often are random and whimsical images pulled from the subconscious.
This is my way of remaining engaged in the creative process regardless of location or situation. As a result I have a growing library of sketchbooks and journals which provide me hours of viewing entertainment and an endless resource of ideas and inspiration. So here’s to life’s endless distractions and opportunities………….be well and creative – Jim
| 21 June, 2016 08:53
Solstice (summer) oil.cwm.24x30.2 panel Solstice (winter) oil.cwm.24x30.2 panel
This year is certainly whizzing by……… here we are at Summer Solstice!
Besides teaching the usual workshops and running the studio/gallery we managed to squeeze in a number of major life events: Dad turned 93 and is in top form – he remains a tough act to follow!, after 25 years together Paul and I are now married, and we have just returned from an amazing “trip-of-a-lifetime”: 18 days in Peru. Paul celebrated his 60th on Machu Picchu…..and yes, W-O-W!!!
Untitled (mini-ogham series) oil.cwm.6x12 Arequipa oil.cwm.18x24
July and August offer us time to slow up a bit; time to enjoy the summer weather, the garden and continuing plans for this Fall and Winter. More travel is definitely in the works – in September we will visit Paris for the first time and I will teach a workshop at the studio/home Loft 11 hosted by Magdalena Groszek. Then in November I will return to our beloved Ireland for a week of art, nature, & history with a group of international artists led by Rebecca Crowell during her fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Co Mayo.
I am in the studio most days so please stop in this summer – calling ahead is always a good idea 952-210-6031.
Of course there are the scheduled events: Saturdays: noon – 4p
Summer First Thursdays 5-9p: July 7, August 4, September 1 Art Attack NKB Open Studios: Nov 4-5-6, 2016
Enjoy the Summer………….
| 06 March, 2016 17:53
If this is winter then here’s a statement I never thought I would utter:
I’m loving this Minnesota winter day!
Near 60 degrees, sunny and breezy – and it is only March 6th!!!! C-O-L-O-U-R-M-E- H-A-P-P-Y!
The snows are melting and beating a swift path to the rivers. A 20-something stood at a bus stop wearing shorts and flip flops – perhaps a tad bit early, but I appreciate his state of mind. Everywhere, folks are driving with their windows and sun roofs open – instant Spring!
As my Celtic Connections continue to evlove and emerge I find myself enamored with every aspect of Nature. I am also seeing Ogham shapes everywhere I look. I am, quite honestly, obsessed with the Ogham shape – a shape to be found and celebrated in the Ogham Alphabet and the silent Standing Stones strewn about the ancient Celtic lands. So obsessed that I am planning my fifth visit to Ireland in November this year……….. but more on that later.
Presently, it is such a wonderful Sunday that I found myself going to church twice – first, walking in the Church of Mother Nature and second, meditating in the Church of Creativity (aka studio). Both were moving and inspiring……..and each in their own way brought me to a state of profound gratitude. So, of course, I thought I should share this with everyone in word and in picture……
A Neighbor's Yard Art (reminds me of Standing Stones)
Melting Ice Neill Pond
Bridge Neill Park
Winter Abstract I
Winter Abstract II
Ogham Stones (really, I see them everywhere)
work in process (Ogham Man? Selfie?)
| 07 August, 2015 00:38
Celtic Connection (Composition in Black & White)
a simple composition + an ultra simple palette = a complex challenge...............
this is my solution:
a variety of whites with a focus on texture through repetitive mark making.
| 05 August, 2015 23:40
the visual process journal will pair some of my images (paintings in process) with thoughts/quotes about the creative process. it will record some of my thinking and decision making employed during the creation of the paintings
stages 1 - 4 of celtic connection (composition in black and white)
| 04 August, 2015 10:17
August, 2015 brings a new book from Serena Barton, artist, author and teacher from Portland, Oregon.
I am one of the artists that Serena reached out to when putting this project together. Consequently, my painting Eire: la tierra de mis recuerdos (Ireland: the land of my memories) and some of my process thoughts are included among the featured guests artists contributions ......
Enjoy Summer - it is flying by all too quickly,
remain well & live creatively -
| 09 July, 2015 00:54
One of the delightful benefits of teaching workshops (there are many) is working with an artist who just lights up when we start working – they really connect with the process and their creativity runs free. Then, workshop over, we all go home – hopefully to continue painting. Very often I then get emails regarding process, techniques or even an “S.O.S. What should I do now?” (I try to never tell someone what to do, but I do give them some options to help them determine what to do for themselves) Friendships form and the creative community expands.
My workshop program Process - Purpose - Passion generated this recent email:
Thank you so very much! You helped me more than you will ever know. I was so frustrated and stuck. Just watching you helped me regain my confidence. I have been painting and painting today. I re-taped some old ones and am starting over with them. California Worm aka something else, has a layer of white with sand on the yellow. I think I might be done with her. I reworked both of the others and tried many different techniques. I am not happy with one but oh well, tomorrow is another day and it will be dry enough to rework. I was in a real questioning transition and wondering if I should continue and you re-inspired me. Watching you paint and seeing your paintings and talking about it helped. I am starting to realize that some of the techniques I just don’t like and so be it—I just won’t use them. I think I will be a waxy, spatula, scraper kind of painter who probably paints worms and amoebas. It will be interesting to see what transpires. I am just going to let it happen and have fun with the process. I was possessed and too intense and certainly not patient. Today was a great day of painting because I just let it happen.
And my reply:
A waxy, spatula, scraper kind of painter!!! Hooray!! Sounds like you’ve been busy today…. I am so glad you found yesterday helpful. It’s all a matter of process, of asking questions, making choices, posing problems and finding the solutions……. which I find endlessly fascinating.
Our process develops through practice – you’ve made some progress with that by realizing there are some techniques that do not work for you – and that’s just fine, you won’t use them.
The same will happen with your tools and even with how you apply your paint.
Our purpose will reveal itself through the work and our dialogue with it……….this is where patience is necessary as it may not be an immediate answer.
Propelling all of this forward is the passion. Passion can overcome a great deal. It can sustain when one is tired or feeling frustrated or stuck. None of it maters if you do not bring passion to the easel. You have a passion, a desire to create. The more you get in touch with that passion and understand it, the more it will fuel your purpose and help you as you continue to hone your process.
It is a delightful creative cycle, slowly turning round and round. Eventually the process + purpose + passion x patience = progress.
Be well, be creative - Jim
From Robert Genn (The Painter’s Keys)
Esoterica: "What's my voice?" has to be asked by each individual artist. Committee-free, the artist needs to develop their voice as if on an island. To be a voice is to be a different voice, set apart, unique. How to find it? Go to your island, put in long hours, fall in love with process--your voice will come out of your work.
| 08 May, 2015 23:52
A quick wrapup regarding Florida and my time with Steve Aimone and a wonderful group of artists.
For my week in ACA (New Smyrna Beach) I focused on more active mark making and shapes. Evidence of my efforts can be found in the previous postings…………….. Remember I said the week was interesting, that it gave me a lot to think about and to distill. Well, that week, those influences added to a week of painting with friends in Asheville plus my own studio pursuits have resulted in a shift in my work and a number of pieces that I find intriguing. On last report I was working on a larger acrylic painting……….. it is now done!
GOP (global oceanic pollution) Blues 36 x 48 acrylic
The newest oil and cold wax paintings are emerging with more aggressive mark making and bolder shapes:
The journey continues……………………….. be well, be creative - Jim
| 25 February, 2015 10:13
The Journey Continues……. Florida Part III
I am home from my Florida experience exactly three weeks now. In between life’s responsibilities and teaching one of my own workshops, I have managed to carve out a few hours for painting. While I incubate several ideas for new and larger oil and cold wax paintings, I have been working on a larger (36x48) acrylic - mixed media painting that I had actually started just before going to Florida. The early stages reflect the typical atmospheric, soft edge style I am so drawn to and with which I am so comfortable…
Phase I 01.10.2015
Phase II 01.11.2015
Fast forward: Post Florida Developments – I am working on introducing more line, shape and colour into this abstract work ………….
Phase IV 02.24.2015
unfinished? .... untitled.... Stay tuned …
| 07 February, 2015 10:03
The week at ACA was structured as a residency workshop with each artist identifying and executing their own project or contract. Mine was to work with bolder mark-making and shapes deliberately moving away from the more atmospheric, blended, soft-edge work that I typically create. I was also working with acrylic paints & mediums which is not my usual media. I find acrylic too plastic (they are plastic so what can one expect?) and that they lack the richness of oils. My personal preference for oil and cold wax persists and serves me well. For this week however the acrylics did pose a challenge so I set about exploring.
I quickly realized that I am as much of a reductive artist as anything. I spend as much or more time removing paint as I do applying paint. Not a big deal, but the realization has now moved forward to my conscious thinking and I am more aware how integral it is to my process, to achieving the results that my aesthetic sense seeks. I also thought a great deal about scale. Those around me were working on very large canvases – up to 6’ by 6’. In comparison my largest piece was 44” by 30”. All the same, I realized when I stepped back after a few days that my work had indeed moved toward bolder, stronger shapes and contrasts and that they seemed larger than they actually were……. Enter scale! All those large canvases, larger shapes of color and gigantic brushstrokes with which I was surrounded were seeping into my work! That reminded me of working with my friend Sara Post (2013) – she had executed two small 4” x 4” paintings which contained organic circular shapes, which although small overall seemed to demand attention from across the room. They seemed truly larger than life. When I commented about that Sara smiled and said yes, scale is important. It is always those singular moments – the little things that stick in our memories and propel us forward.
| 06 February, 2015 11:03
The Journey Continues…….
I spent the past week in Florida at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach with 15 artists and the artistic, writing & teaching team, Steven and Katherine Aimone. It was a week of challenge, contrast, creativity and camaraderie culminating in a chaotic, cacophony of paint. When someone asks me “how was it?” all I can do is smile and say interesting! I’m not being coy – it’s just that I am still digesting all that input and stimulus. I am still decoding it all and incorporating it into my vocabulary, sifting through it all keeping what makes sense, what works for me and filing the rest of the information under “to be revisited at a later date”.
Of course, as with any group event of this nature, there are new friendships forged, inspiration coming at you from all directions and lots of laughter and good memories. (Phrase of the week: “Any Fool Can See That!” – Rhenda Saporito) I am always fascinated by the processes and thinking of others, by their view of the world and their creative expression. This is usually where I discover the little gems that help me evolve and move forward on my own creative journey. This week provided several of those gems.
I also had the delightful opportunity to reconnect with a Toronto friend, Donna Zekas, from a previous workshop in Ireland (2013) and to actually meet and bond with a Facebook friend from Atlanta, Stephanie Dalton. Then there are all the artists from other cities who so generously welcomed me and shared their art. So as I say “interesting or as Arte Johnson would say on Laugh In: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krD4hdGvGHM
Enjoy your journey, be well, be creative……….. James Edward Scherbarth
Back row, from left: Jean Banas, Annette Russell Cargill, Cheri Erdman, Wendy Nicholas, Donna Zekas, James Edward Scherbarth, Stephanie Dalton, Clara Dodd Blalock, Sandy Lear. Middle row, from left: Rhenda Saporito, Aimee Farnet Siegel, Leslie Stokes, Maria Rivadeneira Cala, Christina Foard, Kari OConnell. Front: Carlos Ramirez. Photo: Steven Aimone
| 14 July, 2014 21:30
How often are we asked as artists: “What inspires you?” or “Where do you get your inspiration?”
The simple answer is: everywhere! Although, individually, the source is different for each of us.
Inspiration is not a deep, dark secretive process available to only a select few. It does not ‘fall from the sky’ unless of course you are into Astronomy. Inspiration is the result of daily living in awareness; it is the result of being attuned to the world around and within us. It is also the product of “working your trade, plying your art, experimenting with your medium”. This is true whatever style of art you are pursuing. As Pablo Picasso told us: “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”
I suggest another aspect to inspiration, in addition to working, is THINKING. Thinking in terms of mental process, yes, but also conscious and subconscious thinking which occurs when we are reading, listening to music, discussing all things art with other artists. Napoleon Hill (1883 - 1970 American author) put it this way: “First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” (thinking)
For example, the other day I was web surfing. I do not even remember what prompted the original search, but before I knew it something “caught my eye” and I was off to yet another site. This one featured primarily poets but also visual artists. One piece of art grabbed my attention, which led me to the Spring Issue of their magazine, which featured a poem by Jed Myers entitled Going to Bed. I enjoyed Jed’s words, his vocabulary and his clever phrases…. and then I saw it – that word – that word that drove me to the dictionary. So there I was looking up XYLEM … (Origin: 1870–75 German, equivalent to Greek xýl ( on ) wood + -ēma (see phloem) xylem, in botany, part of the vascular system that conveys water and dissolved minerals from the roots to the rest of the plant and may also furnish mechanical support.) Next stop: images of xylem and there I had it - inspiration for paintings that would be a kind of micro-interpretation of the landscape making use of circular shapes (very Celtic).
You see, I am into landscape (I love it) for its many and varied palettes & textures, for its sense of place, its sense of home, its embodiment of history. I enjoy landscape for the visual treats it provides me, and I am intrigued and learning about the connections between the landscape, nature and my Celtic heritage. So xylem images spoke to me and inspired me viscerally and intellectually.
So I suggest next time you are looking for inspiration that you think about what catches (and holds) your interest; your favorite time of day ( or night) and the corresponding light and shadows. Conjure up mental images of your favorite colors. Are you a collector of things? What type of things? What are their shapes, their colors? What type of art do you like to look at? Collect? Ask yourself why? Ask yourself what do you like to paint? Why? Plumb your thoughts, your reactions to the world within and around you. You will find inspiration abounding…. Or try this suggestion from Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924):
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Sounds like a virtual smorgasbord of inspiration is waiting for us – Happy Painting!
| 20 March, 2014 15:16
a little process pictorial...
early notes/sketches while cruising the Inside Passage last August
and the final painting PASSAGE oil/cwm 18x24 2013
"There are really three parts to the creative process. First there is inspiration, then there is the execution, and finally there is the release."
Eddie Van Halen
.....inspiration is found at every step of the journey
...be well, be creative, travel on!
| 11 May, 2013 09:34
…answers to some questions about my process:
- I usually start with either a mark of an oil bar or a smear of color (new or leftover from previous painting – just something to “break the ice”
- After the initial mark it is a dance of reactions, decisions, additions, omissions, more reactions decisions, additions, omissions, ……… more reactions decisions, additions, omissions, ……… until some magical moment when I arrive at a point where I am comfortable leaving the painting …
- In this particular one WILLOW POND – it started with two smears of a leftover grey green paint/wax mixture
- The shape & form of which suggested a tree line to me – a tree line by a body of water…… so
- I spent some time following that thought and created a sketch/cartoon conveying that idea
- Next I begin to deconstruct the scene (in this case a literal landscape)
- Now my goal is to evoke the sensation of the landscape, the colors, the “feeling” of the place or the moment but through a non-traditional representation – a distillation, if you will, of color, form, shape, line and balance.
- With landscapes there is often that horizon (horizontal) line which is sometimes simply suggested by a shift in values &/or contrast
- In the end the painting needs to be pleasing to my eye – have some balance, a dynamic, a “presence”, color, shape, form, something interesting enough in the imagery to ask you to take a closer look……….
- In spite of all that, or because of it, the painting remains “open to interpretation” – even when specifically titled in such a way as to lead the viewer in a certain direction, I learn a great deal about my paintings from ensuing discussions with the viewing public. Each view is a different perspective, a different reaction, memory or feeling invoked, each engaged viewer both confirms and expands my vision of the finished painting. It is a fascinating and rewarding conversation!
| 26 August, 2012 19:05
How do you paint with wax? I've never heard of cold wax! - is this encaustic? What motivates you? What inspired this painting? Why did you do this or that? What do these marks, symbols or scribbles mean? etcetera, etcetera............ last night was the reception for a group show I am part of: 6 Not So Bored(Board) Members. The work of six local artists (all members of the board of directors for the Burnsville Visual Arts Society) is on display August 17 - September 4, 2012.
The turnout for the reception was good and lively! More importantly our guests were curious and engaging, so we found ourselves immersed in "heavy" discussions answering some of those questions just mentioned and more!
I love these engagements - the conversations, the unexpected questions, the revelations, the sharing, the learning (mostly mine) and the pure joy of talking to someone who professes a real liking (or occasionally a dislike) of my work. Articulating intelligent answers for my viewers is always my goal, but sometimes I do find myself tripping over my own thoughts, or realizing that the answer I just issued forth has left them (or myself) a bit bewildered and asking even more questions. Throughout these conversations, these rapid fire 20 question sessions I might be learning more from them than they from me. Talking about my work, my process, my inspirations is a lot different from thinking about it in the relative security of my studio (all by myself with no one to argue or contradict, no one to pose a different perspective - one I had not even considered up to this point) That is why I so love these exchanges - the dialogues. That is why I believe it is so important to engage the public. It is also why I strongly advocate working with other artists and other mediums - to stretch one's self, to grow, to receive and to give encouragement and to constantly learn.
Ultimately it all feeds back into the work. Thus (hopefully) my work matures, becomes more complex, richer in subtext becoming a more cohesive body of work. That is my aim and to have my paintings "speak for themselves". As my work and I continue to develop our language, please keep asking me How? What? Why? and I will continue to provide answers that are meant to be both relevant and enlightening for both of us. This is a journey, a conversation that I love and truly enjoy sharing. Thanks to all who have joined in so far and welcome to those of you about to jump into the conversation - let's keep talking!
Two images: 1) part of the reception crowd 2) my wall in this show - 9 oil+cold wax paintings
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Calendar Of Posts
- Distractions - 04282017
- Summer 2016 James Edward Scherbarth
- Spring/Winter Day
- Visual Process Journal 08.06.2015
- Visual Process Journal 08.05.2015
- SUMMERTIME AND THE JOURNEY CONTINUES:
- Process, Purpose, Passion, Practice & Patience
- The Journey Continues....Florida the last(?) word.
- The Journey Continues... Florida part III
- The Journey Continues... Florida part II