Monday, August 14, 2023

Inspiration Overload

As some of you know, I am taking a #GapYear in 2023 to make art, deepen friendships, and travel. I am over halfway through the year and would give myself a solid B+ on meeting my intentions!! 

A highlight so far of the year (and frankly, a lifetime) was participating in the Blue Walk Tour of Amsterdam and Paris with Mary Beth Shaw as our group’s mixed media instructor. We spent about a week in both Amsterdam and Paris chugging as much art and inspiration as we could from exhibits of Vermeer and Van Gogh to Banksy and Basquiat the Mona Lisa, and so many famous artists at the Musee d’Orsay, just to name a few. 

At least a couple of hours each day were spent in the classroom working on a journal which I used to document my trip. Mary Beth showed us watercolor techniques, how to incorporate some of the bits and baubles we picked up along the way, and a wonderfully easy and travel-friendly binding system. If you’d like to skip the commentary and see my journal, click over to my YouTube Channel here: Kristin’s Travel Journal. 

Questions began emerging on the very first day of our trip as I stepped into Amsterdam’s MOCO, a museum of contemporary art. 

What is art?
Who are “real artists?”
Who decides? 

There is an entire museum dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh in Amsterdam yet he sold only one painting during his lifetime. In the last two years of his short life (died at 37) he created more than 850 oil paintings.

At the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, we wandered through halls and halls exhibiting artists who had been rejected by the Paris Salon. Artists such as Van Gogh, Vermeer, Cezanne, and Toulouse-Lautrec. “The Paris Salon, sponsored by the French government and the Academy of Fine Arts, took place annually and was a showcase of the best academic art. A medal from the Salon was the assurance of a successful artistic career; winners were given official commissions by the French government, and were sought after for portraits and private commissions.” 

We took a fascinating tour in Paris given by a “Street Artist” who explained how and why they did what they did at the risk of arrest! My favorite tip was placing a magnet at the bottom of your can of spray paint so the ball bearing inside doesn’t rattle when you run from the police. Our guide schooled us on THE USE OF STENCILS! I can honestly say I am looking at graffiti somewhat more appreciatively and definitely differently these days. 


What is art?

The textbook definition of art is: 
the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Who are “real artists?”

If you have the overwhelming desire to create like Van Gogh, Vermeer, and the gal sitting next to me in a workshop, I'm going to call you an artist. If you daydream about your art, think about your art, dedicate time and resources to your art, and put in the work to improve your art, I’m going to call you an artist. 

Ultimately, who decides? 

You do. :)

Now go make some art!!!!


  1. What a trip that must have been - and what a great way to share it with us. That magnet trick - priceless!


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