There is a fantastic quote attributed to American writer, William Faulkner, that goes:
His words immediately put to rest the idyllically naive notion that Creatives lead this romantic existence where they are solely guided by magnificent inspiration. Unfortunately, as Mr Faulkner knew only too well, the wait for inspiration often outlives due dates on bills; a client's patience; a deadline... It is one of the cruel realities that any creative faces when turning a passion into a career. You can no longer sit around and wait for the luxury of inspiration to strike. Instead, you must sit down and simply practice making inspired work part of your daily routine. Eventually - hopefully - this determined diligence becomes habit and you are able to be productive and creative without necessarily feeling particularly inspired.
Trust me when I say that this is no easy feat... Some days are easier than others. And it seems that some creative projects go out of their way to test your willingness and ability to get-inspired-at-9-o'clock-every-morning. For me, in this regard there has never been a more challenging project than my watercolour Bateleur, entitled Launch.
While preparing for my very first solo exhibition back in 2016, I knew that a Bateleur would just have to be on my wishlist to paint. I've had a soft spot for these gorgeous raptors since childhood. I went through a bird-painting-phase as a little girl, and sourced all my reference material from my parents' Roberts Bird Guide. It sports a gorgeous leather cover, featuring a Bateleur!
While searching high and low for reference photos for my exhibition, I discovered an incredible photo of a Bateleur captured by the amazingly talented wildlife photographer, Lisl Moolman. I was immediately drawn to the sense of movement and drama of the charismatic raptor, launching itself from its perch. I knew I had to paint it!
Looking back, I now know that I was too inexperienced to take on a piece of this difficulty. Aside from the vast amount of detail in the bird's feathers, it is also very challenging to depict black objects using watercolour, as it can often appear flat or dead.
It took me three weeks to complete it. Three. Grueling. Weeks.
I must admit that most of that time was spent avoiding actually painting - making tea; pulling my hair out; Googling watercolour tutorials; wondering what to do next; crying on my husband's shoulder; rethinking my career as an artist... Nevertheless, commitment to an impending deadline "inspired" me each morning, and I fought-cried-bargained my way to the finish line.
Every creative project since Launch, I feel as if Mr Faulkner is watching over my every move, quietly reciting his wise words. I might be inclined to feel inspired, if only he would wipe that smug grin off his face...