Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I graduated high school in 2000, and after a quick summer waiting tables, I started attending the nearby college. Classes were early, a little too early, and I found myself not caring about any of the courses besides Art. The introductory art class started at 8 a.m. and I had to get up much earlier to make the 30-45 minute drive. My professor was brilliant, calm, encouraging, and well, just wanted his students to do what they wanted. He'd give us a general direction and we'd make art.

This was ten years ago, I was 18 going on 19 going on the rest of my life, and I always knew I would create, maybe not for a living, but I'd still make stuff. I'd spent most of my childhood drawing (mostly copying cartoons and comics) and after a sudden move to the city, I did very well in High School Art classes.

Three (maybe two and a half? I started skipping a lot towards the end) semesters of Art class passed before I dropped out completely and moved on to just waiting tables and being pregnant, but one thing stayed with me: the love of art and the art-making process, and more specifically, the love of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

One of the finals in the Art class was to watch art-related movies and documentaries and write papers about them. The professor provided a long list of accepted movies and that's where I came across Basquiat. I rented it from BlockBuster (they had a very small number of the movies on the list) and watched it...and watched it over and over. I admit, Jean-Michel looked a lot like a friend from Middle School that I missed dearly so my attraction to him and his artwork felt sentimental.

On my table, a photo created using the Poladriod Project.
Basquiat's work appeals to me and continues to inspire me because it feels vulnerable, and in some ways innocent. Jean-Michel took his experiences and put them on paper or canvas for everyone to see. He told a story every time, whether or not you could see it directly.

I've never been one to ramble on and on about art, and in all honesty, if this were a real life conversation there would be plenty of hand gestures and sighing. Words fail me when describing important feelings and ideas, and perhaps that's why I paint, so to hear me talk about art would be like: "I feel *sigh* about this".

Cadmium by Jean-Michel Basquiat
I finally got to see one of Basquiat's original paintings at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta this past December. When I spotted it across the way, right after the elevator doors opened, I almost sprinted right to it. I was lost in this feeling of gratefulness, since in previous visits to the High I had been unable to find this painting. Finally, I've seen his work in person, not in some book or online gallery, in real life. *sigh*

This week's Get Your Paint On assignment includes finding work that inspires you. At first, I was overwhelmed about trying to find just one artist; I have a tendency to change my inspirations from week to week, but then I found out a new Basquiat documentary had been released and available to watch instantly on Netflix, so I sat down to watch it this morning and felt inspired to write this post. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat is an inspiration to me, and watching footage of him working makes me want to sit down and paint for hours. I cannot wait to get down to the studio.

Other inspiring DVDs in my collection: Frida, Pollock, How to Draw a Bunny, Exit Through the Gift Shop, & Beautiful Losers. What DVD do you watch when you're in need of some inspiration?

1 comment:

  1. Great post! The new Basquiat documentary is now in my instant queue and I'm looking forward to watching it!


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