Travel has always been a huge source of inspiration for my work, and I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had, but recently I’ve been trying to find more inspiration in being still. Sometimes, that means turning to my collection of art books.
I absolutely love art books. Flipping through the pages of other artists’ work is something I’ve always found soothing and inspiring. It’s what I would do in college when I was stressed during finals — I would go study in the art library. Just being surrounded by so much incredible creativity was comforting, and it was a huge stress reliever to get up, take a break, and flip through the pages of a book of art.
I’ve been working on growing my own collection over the years. I’ll pick them up at flea markets, or choose them off friends’ recommendations, or sometimes I’ll get a few when people are giving books away. And I just love being able to go to the shelf and pull down a book and sit with another artist’s work. It helps me clear my own mind and get inspired any time I’m feeling stuck.
When I sit with an art book, I keep a sketchbook with me, and when I feel especially struck by a page, I’ll go to my sketchbook and do little 4x4 squares replicating a pattern. Then I’ll play with that, go off and do my own spin, make it into something new. Then I’ll write a little bit about it, what I love about it, the feeling it brings up for me. And it’s just such a great way to connect with my creative energies.
One of the books I’ve fallen in love with recently is about the work of Édouard Vuillard — a French painter from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I love the way he uses so much pattern in his paintings, since that’s something I do a lot of in my own work.
Vuillard was really a master of color and of pattern, and I instantly start to feel inspired when I just sit and dig through his paintings. He created these beautiful patterns in people’s clothing or on the walls in the background. And every time I open the book, I’ll find a pattern and think to myself, “I want that as wallpaper!” I just love his brush strokes. He’s a very loose painter, I would say, and it makes these lovely, soft experiences in his work.
I get a ton of inspiration, too, from reading through these books, reading the person’s history. Yes, these people were painters, but they’ll get commissions and before they know it they’re doing textiles or china! And I love that part. I learned that Vuillard created a set of custom hand-painted china for a couple’s wedding, and that would be my absolute dream!