The inspiration of Eric Staub

Inspiration is a funny thing.  It can hit you in the unlikeliest of places at times when you didn't even realize you needed it.

I was giving a cursory read to an online article about how to increase followers on Instagram.  I have a healthy following, but felt like I wanted to do something to connect with more people.  One of the suggested ways to increase followers was to follow others.  Pretty simple, huh?

Since picking up on that small suggestion, I've taken to searching for pictures posted on Instagram by using the hashtags that I often use when posting pictures of paintings: #art, #artist, and #portrait being some of them.

I'm going to back up a wee little bit, to set the context for what happened next.  I had spent much of the weekend working on a large canvas of The Jackson 5, the fourth in the Motown series expected to be 9 to 11 large by the end of June.  After a long week of moving The Redpoll Centre from our Franklin Avenue location to Shell Place, and with the inherent stress associated with a major project, I was physically and emotionally spent.  I finished up that evening and then spent a few hours on Sunday sketching out my next project: a portrait of a dog.  That was when I hit a wall.

For the first time in weeks, I felt a desperate need to take a break from painting and do other things, like cooking, cleaning and reading - anything but picking up a brush. My inspiration and motivation had disappeared.  Then I ran into this portrait of a dog by Eric Staub.

It stopped me in my tracks, like only a few other paintings have done in the past.  I looked at it in silent reverence and went back to it several times over the course of the next 24 hours.

I'm drawn in by the eyes, absorbed by the expression in the mouth, and entranced by the free use of colour and line.

I learned a valuable lesson about myself from this painting, and I learned it in about a millisecond.  I need to capture animals in the same way that I capture people, using the same process and free use of colour.  Most importantly, I need to feel a sense of freedom and trust.

I went into the studio last night with that earth-shaking illumination and had more fun than I have had since the night I painted Robin Williams.  My choices were quick and bold, the colours, unexpected and fun.  I can't wait to share it in a few days when it gets given as a gift.

My deepest thanks to Eric Staub for unwittingly pushing me over a mountain and gifting me with a renewed sense of adventure and creative freedom.  You can check out Eric's extraordinary work here:


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