Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #7

This is the seventh  installment from the series of posts that will describe my thoughts and  technical insights from selected works included in our newly released book, “Not Far from Home”….Enjoy!

Inspiration and obedience…

Have you ever had the feeling that you needed to be painting a subject more grandiose than what lay presently before you in its simple, sensitive beauty.  I need to confess that I have and am amazed at my thick-headedness as I have ignored the profound, staggering elegance of the subject right before my eyes in hopes to find something “more important”.

I have found this hubris humbling as I have tried to deny the inspiration that has been given, picking and choosing, trying to squelch the “insignificant” ones to find a more profound “storyline”.  In the temptation to “tell a lofty story” in the literal sense with the subject, I have overlooked the grander message that the simple beauty is conveying.

The “Visit”, as Canadian composer Loreena McKennitt refers to the inspiration, should not be ignored.  I truly believe that it was given for a clear purpose and that my best works were completed when I have followed the initial spark.

I do not say this to advocate a lazy approach in looking for a subject that moves us deeply or to shirk the responsibility of developing more complex compositions, but too often I have let the temptation to paint something “profound and important” block the true inspiration God has given in the twist of a branch or the ever so subtle shift from red to green in the face of the model.

Certainly we should continue to strive toward greater heights as we develop our artistic abilities in whatever direction that leads us, but I for one, need to “obey”, for lack of a better word, and proceed as directed.  My greatest joy in painting has followed when I have.

In my opinion, no profounder message could have been told than that of which these cedar trees expressed.

My job was to absorb the beauty, convey the message and rejoice…

book cover new web

Not Far from Home” 


9 responses to “Technical Insights from “Not Far from Home” #7

  • scott christensen

    great Dan ..Thanks for the insight!!

  • Michelle Dunaway

    I’m so glad you wrote about this Dan, as it has been on my mind a lot recently in the studio…paying attention and following that initial spark of inspiration without having to intellectualize why I’m drawn to paint it.. to trust in the simple truth that what I’m seeing is awakening my spirit in some way and expressing it through paint…
    and I love your painting, it really spoke to me in that same undefinable way.I feel like I can breath the air within it

    Thanks for your blog!
    Best wishes,

  • zongyuesun

    Hi dan,thank you for the experience you share with us.Thanks!

  • Loretta Fasan

    You are one of my favorite artists.
    I appreciate the compassion in your work.

  • Mike Neilson

    Great post Dan. Thanks for sharing!

  • JulieD

    That’s a good thing to ponder. Lately, I worry about the simplicity of my work. I don’t want to over-complicate the images I make, but at the same time, I worry that I stop “too soon”. Maybe my issue is difficulty in appreciating the subject. I need to rethink that.

    I like what you said about obeying… I think it’s a pretty good term, actually.

  • Vilma

    I love your attitude toward your work, that you are ever so thoughtful of His glory.

    God bless you!

  • Bill

    Thanks for the insight Dan. There are so many motivations for creating art and as in all human activity it is tough to kick back the pride and just humbly follow the inspiration. Freedom is realized when we consider ourselves conduits of beauty, grace, challenge or whatever and not the author.
    Your art and world view has been very encouraging to me. Good to see you blogging. You have much to offer the rest of us strugglers.

  • susanpattonart

    Hi Dan,
    Thank you for your blog. I did not know you had this until my mother, and artist mentor, Dot Courson, e-mailed me. She asked if I followed this blog and I replied, “No, I have not been, but I do have his book open on my table in my studio as I paint.” Needless to say, I am now following your blog, and feel like I am in a workshop as you share your insights. Thanks so much.
    I would be honored for you to visit my blog and read my “Artist Statement”. ( Your blog about being “obedient” reminds me of how I feel when I choose my subjects to paint.
    God bless,
    Susan Patton

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