|Garber is well known for his simple subjects and
Artists aren’t superheroes. No capes, no spandex onesies, and no butlers named Alfred. Artists don’t necessarily lead extraordinary lives in which they paint or draw between bouts of saving the world. Artists are like you and me. They are you and me, actually. We all go about our day-to-day lives and amidst the daily to-dos and stressors we try to recognize inspiration when it hits, and then we try to find enough time to actually do something about it.
That is why I feel silly looking back to those times when I thought, what should I paint or draw? The ‘what’ was never really the problem. It was the logistics of taking the ‘what’ to the next level. And for me, what I paint or draw is always the same: what’s around me.
Working from life, my life, is the only thing that is never going to go away or get old or stale. Not that I lead a charmed life. It is more like I’ve learned to recognize the gold mine of images and visual ideas that swirl around me every day.
American artist Daniel Garber did this too, and his work inspires me when I feel down for not working with more exciting visual images. A late nineteenth-century painter, Garber expressed simple, everyday things in extraordinary ways.
|An evening with friends can be a unique painting
subject. The figures are only a small part of what
makes this painting interesting. I feel like the
excitement is in the dramatic forms of the cast
shadows on the wall behind the figures.
A young girl in a white dress cast half in shadow and half in light; a woman mending clothes; a letter being read; an impromptu concert of three musically-inclined friends; even his own studio wall—all of these are fairly ordinary subjects. These kinds of events happen to all of us pretty often. But what Garber did with them is what makes them worthwhile as artistic subjects. That’s what all of us have to do as well—learn how to paint these commonplace events in a remarkable way.
Art isn’t about drawing glamorous, flashy people or painting superhero feats. It is about growing in our own creative abilities and technical skills and seeing what is around us with an artist’s sensibility. If you work in pastels, which is a great way to vibrantly capture the moments around you, consider a subscription to The Pastel Journal, which lets you do that kind of eye-sharpening with every issue. You see how other pastel painting artists work out their own inspirations; how they build a fine art work; and what kinds of pastel techniques, supplies, and tips they use to get there. You can take a step closer to becoming the artist you know you are capable of being and see how your own “everyday” can be quite extraordinary. Enjoy!