I read a lot. I mix it up though, not sticking merely to one type of thing. One genre that I like to read is biographies on artists and/or artistic eras and movements. It has become much easier to appear in print, especially if one has a hook such as “Secret Lives of …”, so I highly recommend reading up on whether a work of non fiction is accurate or not beforehand.
Having read all the better biographies on the impressionists it spurred me on to seeing their work in person. Their works retains an emotional power, sometimes more than that of a few of the modern masters who came after them. Even with this retention of power though, their work has lost its “dangerous” aspect. Unless well versed with their era, looking now at a Monet or Renoir one would never suspect how they had upset and scandalized Parisian culture.
Matisse who proceeded them had similar problems. After a small showing of some of his works, newspapers said that the colorful “blobs” were germs and that viewers risked catching something by viewing them. This taunt would even be repeated while he was within earshot in the streets. Looking at his works now with their radiant joy and color, it’s difficult to imagine that they had at one point been considered scandalous.
All of this underscored what I had already known, I would rather put my energy & attention towards creating as I want, rather than trying to be “cool” or cutting edge. Today’s “dangerous” (which seems to go hand in hand w/ “cool”) work is destined to not necessarily become unappreciated but most likely made safer by whatever generationally comes down the line.
A then radical innovation I cribbed from the Impressionists which many painters I admire continued with is the painting objects & people from my every day life. I do not look for the drama but rather the real and let the truth supply the emotion.
I have an ongoing Series titled “A Valentine of Sorts”. All the pieces are 5.5×8.5 and compositionally, are often a small section of a larger scene (i.e just my hand instead of my entire body, just a glass instead of an entire tablescape). Their commonality is in being things from my every day life, observed and then captured.
“Her First Docs” Watercolor & Paper 5.5×8.5