On a recent European trip, I had an opportunity to visit the Louvre. My group quickly went upstairs to view the Mona Lisa painting. I stood close enough to her to inspect the lady’s eyes. I always try to get some information from art… She looks at her audience with eyes that seem to see. The painting gives life to her eyes in smooth, seamless realistic strokes. She lives behind these painted eyes. I admire the technique. I look carefully at the drawing and painting. I want to gain information for my own drawings from what I see. Of course, I don’t suggest a skill as deep as this artist’s but I am inspired to try to mimic what I see. I am moved to develop my skills.

At the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, there is a Van Gogh painting. Typically it is a portrait of an unsmiling, middle-aged woman, dressed in dark clothing. She sits up straight backed with her hands crossed on her lap. As an artist, I stood close to the painting and examined her hands. Her hands were crossed with her fingers resting gently on top. The knuckles, the nails, the bent thumbs show a life-like artistry that I look at for instruction. I look for ways to copy what the artist has done. I am inspired to try to develop my technique.

Artists paint in tents for months during the season in Phoenix. It is a joy to meander through their exhibits and watch them work in oils, watercolor and metals. Their paintings always inspire me to go home and work. I see a pictures of a rock-covered river bottom. I want to go home and paint water… and maybe, rocks!

To the casual eye, art can be enjoyed by simply viewing, but as an artist, I always am stirred to go further – not just looking, but practicing and developing my artistic skills.
~ Elin Bates