I find so many artists fascinating, brilliant, and inspiring.  I recently was interviewed for a blog feature (I know…little ol’ me will be a feature…don’t worry I’ll link it as soon as it’s posted!) anyways – I was asked what artists inspire me, and that got me thinking!  Lots of artists have inspired me – in many different ways. 

Some artists’ personal stories are inspiring while others inspire me with their use of color, composition, and materials. I love art museums! LOVE THEM!  I could spend days in museums…mostly the modern art portion.  I always find great pieces of art that inspire me.  Sometimes by artists I know, sometimes by artists I don’t.  But I will never forget the first time I saw a piece by Chuck Close.

I was with my mom (always a faithful art museum companion – Thanks Mom!) at the Chicago Museum of Fine Art in the modern art section when we started looking at this big portrait.  I even remember where exactly it was positioned in the gallery!  Up close it appeared to be a lot of little boxes filled with different shapes (Xs, Os, squares, dashes…etc…) I could tell it was a portrait and it was cool. 

“I build a painting by putting little marks together–some look like hot dogs, some like doughnuts.” –  Chuck Close

The size alone was simply awe-inspiring.  We continued on to the next gallery and then next, when all of a sudden I turned around and looked back through the hallway at the over-sized shape filled portrait and it had transformed.  Completely. It had morphed into a photograph.  I couldn’t believe it.  In fact, I walked back up to it and stood there for another hour.  Luckily my mother understands my quirks and let me behave this way without urging me on (Thanks again Mom!)

I was completely in awe, speechless, and that’s quite a feat!  After finishing the rest of the gallery I demanded we go back downstairs and look at the Chuck Close piece again.  Ever since that day I have continued to seek museums with Close pieces.  I have been forever in love with his work.  It’s so big…and so real! 

 For those of you in the St. Louis area.  Go immediately to the St. Louis Art Museum.  Turn right after entering the front doors, go up the stairwell, make another right (this is the Modern art section) look around a bit.  Don’t worry, you won’t miss it.  I’d give you directions to its exact location, but they move pieces around from time to time.

Ok…back to Mr. Close.  To make his work even more inspiring.  Chuck Close has an amazing personal back-story.  He has overcome a set back that I could only imagine would keep me from ever painting again.

In December 1988 Chuck Close suffered a spinal artery collapse. This left him mostly paralyzed from the neck down.   He refers to this day as “The Event”.  Did he give up? Did he hang up his paint brushes?  No way!  He continues to paint by taping a brush to his hand.  Doesn’t that make you rethink all your excuses in life! In short (Ha…like I ever make anything short!) Chuck Close’s work always inspires me.  It doesn’t matter how many times I see the same painting, I still have that same rush I felt the first time I saw his work.  I wanted you to experience his work as well, and although these pictures really don’t do it justice at all (seriously…you must see this in person!), I posted a few images for your viewing pleasure.

I reposted these from various websites (I know, I know, you don’t even have to say it – I’m sure it’s wrong of me!) But I wanted to share with you some of my personal inspiration.

Phil Spitbite, 1995

Lucas/Woodcut, 1993

Self Portrait, 1967-1968

Chuck Close working on a portrait after “The Event”