Anita Louise West, “Chama,” acrylic, 12 x 16 in.

Art inspiration by Anita Louise West

Why do I want to paint in plein air? What is the concept that prompts me to take my studio supplies outside and create art there? Using a stick with hairs attached and paint to create on a surface what nature has so beautifully displayed seems a strange activity.

Art inspiration -
Anita Louise West, “Pecos,” oil, 16 x 20 in.

I have devoted my entire life to painting and teaching those who also have a passion for painting. There is much to be learned by going portable and exploring the world, both outer and inner, in which we live. I call this the content of the creation.

Art inspiration -
Anita Louise West, “Three Kings,” oil, 6 x 8 in.

There are three levels of study when beginning to paint. They are technique, design, and concept. Much has been said about the techniques of art making, and many start with this as a basis. Then after carefully acquiring the tools and practicing the basics, we are left with the problem of how to say something with the artwork. This is the design or composition of a painting. These concerns are vast and sometimes require years of study to become proficient at picture making.

Art inspiration by Anita Louise West
Anita Louise West, “Overlook,” oil, 12 x 16 in.

In my way of thinking, the most important area to address when creating art is the idea or concept. Why do I want to paint this or that, and what do I want to say about it? Finding the content of a painting can be a marvelous experience or a profoundly difficult task.

Related Art Inspiration >
How to Use “Concept” to Create a Successful Painting, From the Start

I found that asking myself these questions helps:
What tugs at my heart?
What am I drawn to when I go out into nature?
What do I photograph and stop in my tracks to notice?

Anita Louise West, “Aspen Vista,” oil, 12 x 12 in.

When Art Inspiration is Spiritual

Approaching painting with a desire to show others what they are missing is my lifelong mission. I consider it the spiritual level of art making. If I don’t have something to say that I am passionate about, my work can be adequate — maybe even exceptionally well done — but the capital A in Art is missing.

Anita Louise West, “Mesas,” oil, 10 x 20 in.

Do I have eyes that see when I am out in nature? I want to take it all in — sight, sound, smell, and all of it. The beauty of nature reveals itself when I get quiet. Even if it is a city street full of activity, my job is to draw out the essence in the midst of the chaos. Our lives are so loud that we yearn for peace of mind and freedom from the shouting. Only when we sit and breathe in the light so we have a chance at sanity.

Anita Louise West, “On the Path,” oil, 12 x 9 in.

So when I am at my easel I put myself in the place of neutrality or open my senses to all that is around and feel the place, the light, the sense of my body on the earth, and my connection to the world and all the beings here. Then I have a chance of conveying this to the viewer, that sense of awe and mystery of why I am here and what I have to say.

Anita Louise West, “Wind Blown,” oil, 16 x 12 in.

Love of the place I am standing and love for all is necessary to be able to communicate the reverence I have for my life and this life, with art as the vehicle to speak. I must develop a reverence for life in general and use the brush, pen, paint, surface for letting others who have had their essence diminished by the noise know that all is well and peace remains. This is the art spirit that Henri and all the greats tapped into when the masterpiece was created. This is as important as breathing and dreaming.

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