Fire Up Your Everyday Routine by Looking At Art

It’s like bottled inspiration and I drink from it daily.

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“The Triumph of Music,” by Marc Chagall. 1966. (Philharmonie de Paris).

To fire up inspiration in my life, I keep artwork all around me.

When I was a young school girl, I loved making drawings based on artwork I was familiar with. I was exposed to a variety of visual art both through the small progressive school I attended — which emphasized creating art, and because my Dad was a painter and we had his and other art all over the house.

Marc Chagall’s paintings, in particular, were so magical to me. I kept handfuls of postcards — reprints of his most famous pieces, with me. I treasured those postcards. Inspired, I would draw balletic, long legged, mystical creatures and falling angels over and over again.

Sometimes I cut paper shopping bags into pieces, and would draw Chagall-inspired figures and scenes on the sides with the handles. Then I’d hang these on doorknobs around the house.

***

Today, my husband and I collect and hang original pieces in our home — often they are paintings we collect at yard sales, or those made by little known painters and street artists. I also collect art when we travel, a hobby I began over a decade ago when I studied abroad in Europe.

Our church, too, has an art gallery and every couple of months they curate a new collection. My husband and I like to walk through the art gallery after church services and talk about the pieces we see, and how they make us feel.

I still keep postcards with reprints of my favorite famous pieces in the back of my daily planner. I love Renaissance art, the Romantic Tradition in British Painting, and Modern Art. I’m not partial to one style or genre over another, though. If a piece inspires me it doesn’t matter who made it or when or where — I’m enlightened!

Looking at a piece of art that moves me emotionally supercharges my creative juices and motivates me to make something, myself.

For example, after viewing art I often want to take a positive action that benefits other people — like writing a new article or a poem, thinking up a brand-new meal to cook for my family, starting a volunteer project, saying a prayer, or calling a someone to talk.

***

Art makes me feel alive. It makes me feel more colorful, more textured, and more complex inside. Sometimes, when I look for a long time at a single piece, it does the opposite — it simplifies things for me when chaos abounds.

The artwork I enjoy can be joyful or sad. When I was in college, I felt a connection to a piece by John Constable called, “Hadleigh Castle, The Mouth of the Thames — Morning after a Stormy Night.” This oil on canvas piece from 1829 was showcased at the Yale Center for British Art where I worked.

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“Hadleigh Castle, The Mouth of the Thames — Morning after a Stormy Night,” by John Constable. 1829. (Yale Center for British Art).

Alone, sometimes the only person on the gallery floor besides the museum guards, I would sit down before it and I would weep quietly.

This painting touched an inner chord of sadness inside of me, something I had difficulty accessing in college except in moments like this — in the intimate presence of a painting, apart from other people.

I would stare at the image of the man and his dog — presumably the artist himself — and understood that he had painted the piece around the time of his beloved wife’s death. Here, I felt safe to access my own broken heart.

***

Paintings also help me to articulate my visions and dreams.

My husband and I have a reprint of a painting of a house in the mountains with a sunset behind it hanging in our home. This visual has been a vision of inspiration for us as we have built our life together.

Whether I’m standing in a gallery before a famous piece, or staring down at a postcard in my hand — these visual masterpieces are tools for my everyday living — palpable expressions that light up my soul, ground me, or propel me forward into action.

Art expresses the innermost dwellings of our emotional mind. In the same way that I believe science reveals the mysteries and miracles of God, art is also an expression of divinity, of an artist’s higher power working through him or herself, and ultimately, being shared for the purpose of blessing others.

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(Credit: Unsplash)

One last thing…

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Originally published on The Ascent.

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