Get Inspired {Austin Fine Art Portraits}
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By Christie Stockstill Photography
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I've been looking at this painting by Odilon Redon a lot recently. When a new client told me my work reminded her a bit of his paintings, of course I had to see for myself. I look at art of all kinds on a daily basis, so I was surprised to be learning of an artist I hadn't previously known, and more surprised to see that, yes, my work is (in some instances) reminiscent of his. So, since the summer, I've spent some time looking through images of his paintings, letting them absorb into my skin, in particular the piece shown here called 'Ophelia.'  


I have long been aware of how my water portrait work can seem inspired by Shakespeare's doomed character. {Artists seem to have been drawn to her for centuries.} In fact, I take great care to keep my subjects from looking like Ophelia. I am admittedly enamored by a fully-clothed woman submerged in water-- it's unexpected and I love the way the fabrics flow and float in the water, the way the colors are saturated-- but I don't like the characters I create to look forlorn, hopeless or dead. Still, how interesting that the first Redon piece I am drawn to is his vision and interpretation of her.


Why all this talk about Redon? 


Two things...

1.  I was hired by the aforementioned client to do one of my Nine-Year Project pieces, so I thought it would be cool to let his work seep into my subconscious a bit, study it for  while then put it away while I created this new work of my own.

2. I am always interested in how art is created, the motivation, the inspiration, and the process. Lately, I find myself discussing that exact thing with my son, who is struggling a bit to find his own voice in music. He feels frustrated that the music and lyrics he writes sound like the music he listens to.  "Naturally," I tell him, "what you put in, will eventually come out." What we read, what we see, what we hear and experience becomes part of us. Artists must have input to create output, and, with persistence, the output will become more and more your own. 

I remember one of my high school English teachers had us regularly do an exercise called "Write Like" which called for us to try and mimic the exact style of the particular author we were studying. I specifically remember the challenge of trying to write like Hemingway. He was so effective at communicating a scene without extraneous detail or flowery language. He would have pages of dialogue with no names or he said/she saids! you had to pay attention. (Hmm...that may have affected me more than I realized.)

The point is this: if you want to make art, you have to look at art. Yes, some of what you observe will come out in your work. To keep from falling into the trap of outright copying, I try to look at work daily by other artists, but not just before a shoot or as a way of finding ideas for an upcoming shoot. 


Below, are the two final pieces I created for her.  Maybe you will see my style in these two pieces, and perhaps even be able to see elements of other artists whose work has influenced me.


A Final Note-


We're moving this week, so yesterday I was making sure our framed art pieces were carefully packed and I realized that this piece by Thom Rouse has been on my mind from the beginning of my art career. I've always loved it-- so much so that I once tore it out of a page in a magazine and later acquired a print from Thom.  I had literally just shared the second image with my client when I moved this print. Looks like that piece finally worked itself into one of my own pieces! 

 *Please excuse the iPhone photos I pulled from a Facebook post. They do not do this image justice!

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