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Encouragement – for the journey as an artist


I have included some musings and hopefully helpful insights to help you understand my art life and perhaps your art life a little better.


What does a painting day feel like?

The day can be long and hard or fun and action packed. Sometimes it is slow and delectable or perhaps fast and furious. Frustration and panic can fill some days while other days have a lazy summer atmosphere about them.

Sometimes I have awakened having planned to paint all day to find that I am not mentally still and so I spend the time preparing myself rather than painting. I may read an inspiring article, calm myself mentally with cups of tea and quiet musings and listen to my favourite music. A walk in nature helps. When my mind says “now” that is when I pick up the pastels and begin. Starting before my mind is settled can mean that I have to discard all I put on to the surface, so I have learned to wait until I am still within myself. Once I have begun, the process then passes quickly unfolding into a painting.

It is important to note that I am not waiting for inspiration to strike while I still myself. I just need to be settled within myself and then I can put all of myself into my work.

Keeping Inspired

Each of us loves particular things. I really enjoy a drive in the country. I love to travel down new roads, climb to the top of a hill or wander through bushland. I love to explore beyond where I have never been before. Revisiting favourite spots also makes me happy.

I am constantly thrilled by the sunrise and sunset – the play of colour and light excite me deep within myself.

Taking my camera with me on my excursions allows me to record some prompts for later regarding my great day out. I may never use the photos but the experience of it all provides me with inspiration for months to follow.

Find what excites you and do it as often as you can, this way inspiration is only ever one step away.

Wondering what to paint?

So many things inspire me. But usually on a particular day there is one subject that leaps out at me more than all the others, a subject that talks to me and has me animated. That is what I paint.

For those days when nothing pops into my head, I prepare surfaces, play with colour, tidy the studio or read inspiration materials. Don’t know what you love to paint – then try this - visit the library or a book shop or newsagent – allow yourself to gravitate to the book shelves or magazine racks. Note where you have stopped! Are you looking at animal subjects, decorating information, travel books, flowers, people or car subjects? Pick up the literature in front of you and flip though the pages...where do you stop? Note all the pages you stop at and analyse these. Are you stopping at all the pages that are a specific colour, specific subject or specific shaped forms etc? Note what you naturally gravitate towards without any inclination as to these topics as painting subjects. Slowly but surely you will begin to understand what you love and these subjects of course become naturally great subjects for you to begin your painting journey. Over time you will find more loves. My initial love was for flowers. Now I simply love everything that is bathed in light and that has beautiful colour passages.

How long does a painting take to create?

In some cases I would say a painting might take 20 years, other cases just a few weeks or even a few days, rarely a few hours.

Allow me to qualify the 20 year ones. Recently I visited Venice in Italy. I was excited to visit the building Santa Maria della Salute. I have wanted to see and paint this building since I first saw Turner’s rendition of this subject some 20 years previous to my visit. Over those 20 years I had been subconsciously preparing myself for the day I would paint this wonderful piece of architecture. Once I saw it I could paint it almost immediately. My responses and feelings were fully realized and so I could paint the subject having this sorted.

Sometimes I have waited some seven years after a visit to an area before committing pastel to surface. Over that time I have been subconsciously preparing myself to paint. I like to muse, think, ponder and reflect around the subject. I revisit the photo often to re enjoy the experience and to remind myself of all that it means to me. After this extended process ends I paint with passion and meaning. This to me is the peak moment. Once the painting is done, I then can enjoy and re visit the place with even more pleasure over and over again.