Creative Spark: Get Out of Town

Day Dreaming (18×26) by Carole Katchen
This painting was inspired by my recent trip to Taiwan. The model, the room and even the fruit are typical of the locale.

No artist can keep generating fresh, energetic images without an occasional break to refresh the senses. Yes, you can force yourself to keep producing paintings, but in time you’ll find you’re only copying your successful paintings from the past, and then copying your copies. That’s when it’s time to wake up our senses by getting out of town.

I plan my life so that I can periodically travel abroad. During a recent two-month trip to Taiwan, I worked as an artist-in-residence at a university. A friend loaned me a bicycle so that I could explore the city, and the university gave me a studio where I could paint every day. The paintings I brought home were some of the strongest works I’ve ever done. My subjects were the same kinds of things I paint in America—people in restaurants, musicians, women gossiping—but there were subtle differences in the way I looked at space and how I arranged colors. I found myself much more aware of the surrounding sights, smells and sounds in an unfamiliar environment. All of those sensations helped produce my new work.

The next time you’re bored with your art, don’t force yourself to keep painting. Take some time off, even if only long enough to walk around a park or visit a farmers’ market.

Try This at Home
E-mail your travel-inspired pastel painting (or paintings) to (as a JPG image with a resolution of 72 dpi) by April 30, 2008. (Type “Creative Spark” in the subject line.) The “editor’s choice” will win $150 worth of PanPastel colors and tools. Include your name, e-mail and mailing address, plus a few words about your entry/entries.

Congratulations to previous winners Marie Stanton Cardany, of Stuart, Fla., (December 2007 challenge), and to Becky Way, of Yukon, Okla. (February 2008 challenge). Go to our blog ( and search “creative spark” to see their winning pastels and find out what they won.

And the Winner Is …
Congratulations to Julie Deane, of Gainesville, Ga., for her winning entry in the April Creative Spark challenge. Deane won $150 worth of PanPastel colors and tools.

Here’s how the artist says travel inspired her painting, Reverence (at right):
“The inspiration for the piece was a missionary trip to Peru. Our group went to support several local churches and pastors who live in very poor neighborhoods.

During a music and praise session one evening, the man in the foreground of the painting came into the church and stood next to me. He was obviously very weary, but he stood for hours that night, worshipping quietly. The scene was a highlight of my trip.”

Miss the April deadline? Get on the ball for the June 2008 challenge!

Click here to go back to the Creative Spark homepage.

Award-winning artist and author Carole Katchen‘s Creative Spark challenges appear in The Pastel Journal. Learn more about her at

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