the artistic bent

The Artistic Bent
By Guest blogger Chay Partridge

The artistic bent is a subject open to personal interpretation, like many things to do with art.  This week I bring you some thoughts about it, that you may or may not have considered before.

“One day I went a-wanderin

Down a dusty road

As dusk was casting its shadows,

Across my precious load…”

This is the beginning of a poem of mine, and to be honest, nothing external prompted it, the inspiration for it came from a place inside me where beauty resides.  As far as I am concerned, if an artwork does not even attempt to touch this place, it is merely wearing the façade of art and is not the genuine article.

I make this bold statement because I am experienced in channelling inspiration, and I have found that this place of beauty is its home.  As we complete an artwork and examine its fluidity and overall effectiveness, we can begin to see that its congruence is due to the overall beauty that has been achieved.

This is not to say that all art must be beautiful, but only exceptional technical skill can make up for a vague moment of inspiration.

Beauty is what causes us to admire things – it is what I describe as an absolute-value, as it is the nature of all beings to move toward what they are attracted to.  This attraction gives our inspiration the wings it needs to cause us to create, develop and evolve.

the artistis bent,waterhouse

Painting by Waterhouse

So how do we find it?  Does everyone have an artistic bent? Well, there are two ways to ‘get inspired’… the commonest and easiest way to do this is to look at stuff until you find what you like, then get ideas from it and come up with your own version.  The other more advanced method, for the artistic aspirant, is to find it using introspection.  We do not concentrate on looking for ideas we like in our head or finding out nice stuff to paint or write about, but rather we concentrate on self-analysis, constructive self-criticism, and reflection upon what is important in our lives.

It is definitely a slower method, but by doing this we get rid of what is unnecessary and discover that which truly makes our life meaningful.  And THAT my friends is what actually drives inspiration… it’s the meaning, the being of self and the purpose of what we are doing that gives it real grunt and long-term drive.

You will see in the Rembrandt piece, that the subject is an ugly old man, but Rembrandt’s inspiration has used characterisation, colour and compositional fluidity to capture the beauty that is inherent in life – it doesn’t focus on superficially ‘beautiful’ traits.

rembrandt,the artistis bent

Rembrandt – Portrait

There are some instances where a person may be delighted to create something grotesque and call it art, yet you will find that with all artistic movements, even surrealism and cubism, aesthetic harmony and balance are never compromised.  Because these are the essential features of beauty that give art its foundation.

Cubism,the artistis bent

Picasso – cubism

Creative Practice – Part II

Creative practice  is incorporated in a theme that I have often spoken of on the blog, this is the idea of the Artist Date. The issues I spoke of in the previous post speak directly to the value of the artist date. Why, because when you are on an artist date,  you are a lot more present and you are consciously seeking things that are going to fire your inspiration. You are putting yourselves in environments that you love, or sometimes that challenge, but generally are going to ignite your creative juices.

So to return to how one works up in image, in my own art practice I will often put an image into Photoshop and then play around with it until it feels right, and I may or may not do drawings from this. Sometimes I will print the images out and then do draw on top of the printed images for things that I haven’t been able to deal with in the computer space.

Creative Practice

Creative Practice in action

When I’m happy with the composition, I will then begin drawing the image up on the canvas.

Here is the finished painting…

creative practice,Kadira Jennings

Suspension oil on Canvas 40×40″

Another element of art practice that relates directly to creating images is looking at other art work, whether this is work of the great masters, children’s art, or works on display in a local gallery. Our inspiration comes from many sources. We can look at how another artist has dealt with, for example,  light on fabric and apply the same principles in our own work. In fact in Europe there is a time honoured tradition for artists to go into galleries and make sketches and copy the works of the great masters in order to learn and study how they executed what they did. This makes life a lot easier, because you don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. So we all have much to be thankful for in terms of our  predecessor artists and their contribution to our understanding of how to create an art work.

This Weeks Question: Have you identified the elements of your creative practice that work the best for you?

Look For Next Week’s PostArt Processes – a look at uncertainty as part of our art practice.

Cropping Is A Powerful Tool

Cropping is a powerful tool, how do you use it? What is the best way to use it? How can cropping make my work better.

I’d like to share with you some of the images I’ve cropped recently, which have then resulted in a better all round composition.  This tool is tied to that of finding new inspiration in old subjects.  The other thing that cropping does, is to isolate areas of an image and to move an image toward abstraction.

Take the photo below.

Misty Morning

Misty Morning

This was the original photo I worked from to produce the following three paintings.  You will see that the first painting has kept most of the image, but cropped out some elements and enhanced others.

Unveiling I NZ Oil Painting - Kadira Jennings

Unveiling I


Then I cropped the image thus….

Misty Morning II

Misty Morning II

And here is the painting…..

Unveiling II Kadira Jennings

Unveiling II

And the last cropping of the work was this….

Misty Morning III

Misty Morning III


And the painting that grew out of the image….

Unveiling III - Oil Painting Kadira Jennings

Unveiling III

So I trust that you can see how an image can create several sources of inspiration.

This Weeks Question: What images do you have that you can re-look at and find more to be inspired by?

Look For Thursday’s Post: Moehau Sunshower

Next Monday’s Post: 

Post by : Kadira Jennings



Unveiling III

As I was saying in Monday’s post this week, it is only through a process of working with an image in an ongoing visual conversation that we can access otherwise unavailable ‘hidden data’ for want of a better description.

We take bits and pieces, a line, a feeling , a particular shade of grey and put it all together. It is an adding on to, or sometimes a subtractive process.  It is decisions, minute; minute by minute, hour by hour which eventually accumulate into a painting.

Hence – Unveiling III……..

Unveiling III - Underpainting

Unveiling III – Underpainting


Unveiling III - Oil Painting Kadira Jennings

Unveiling III


If you would like to see more of my work, please visit my website Kadira’s Work

Next Thursday’s Post: Moehau Sun Shower

Next Monday’s Post: Cropping is a powerful tool

Posted By: Kadira Jennings

Inspiration From Different Sources
Continuing on the theme of inspiration, from last week, where I was discussing the connection between music and art, I would like to share some surprising sources of inspiration for me.

When I began writing this post, I actually really needed to put my Thinking Hat or should I say my Memory Hat on, to uncover what does inspire me.

A starting point for me is often Photos, which may not seem very different or unusual.  However something I discovered recently, was that when you change your focus, you can go back to long discarded photos and find new sources of inspiration within them.  Sometimes we need to have gone through a previous journey of discovery in order to get to this place. A case in point is the recent change in my own work.  Below is a painting I did mid last year.

Cathedral Cove I 19x24" Oils by Kadira Jennings

Cathedral Cove I 19×24″ Oils

I spent much of last year painting caves and the inner workings of the earth you might say.  Now I am looking at her more visible outer beauty, which although readily available to everyone, is not always seen  by them. I returned to photos I had taken several years ago, not really ever thinking I would paint them, because at that point I couldn’t have done so, for two reasons –

  1. I didn’t have the necessary technical skills
  2. I didn’t have the viewpoint/vision that I now have.

Unveiling I sm


Part of this latter reason involves becoming more discerning, looking for the image within the image. In my next post I will look at cropping as a powerful tool to gaining a memorable image.  Some of this can be done with cutting tools, others requires working through and with an image in paint.  It is not until you have painted an image that you have drawn a particular essence out of it and discovered the possible jewel within it, that it can then becomes your next painting.

Next Thursday’s Post: Unveiling III

Next Monday’s Post: Cropping is a powerful tool

Posted By: Kadira Jennings


This is a topic I have revisited many times over the life of the Blog. However today I want to focus on something that you may have discounted as being of little value in terms of helping you to move creatively. This is, considering exploring a new medium.

Like all other artists, I too have had my periods of being creatively blocked.  Some of these periods have lasted a short time maybe a day or two and others have lasted to some degree or other over a period of years.  What do you do when the joy goes out of creating? How do you find that lost spark again.

Photo of a match


I have been stuck in the blocks backwater for some time. Well I was until recently, and I want to share with you how I got myself out of it.  My main medium for many years now has been Oils.  I love Oils, and everything about them, so I never really considered changing to do anything else.  However I have spent the last many months not doing a great deal at all. There are a couple of half finished paintings hanging around the studio that seemed like a good idea at the time, yet now I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm to get them finished.  And of course every time I go in there, they stare at me accusingly as if to say, ‘Well get on with it. Why haven’t you finished us?’  All of which is very disconcerting and makes me hightail it out of there as fast as I can!

Thinking about this I have come to the conclusion that there were several reasons for my stuckness – and here they are –

  • I had got to the end of my inspiration for that subject matter and painting technique, which I had played with through several paintings. This goes for both these unfinished paintings even though they are vastly different in subject and technique.
  • I was struggling to find time to actually get into the studio in the last 10 months due to a life style change – suddenly an instant family appeared with a new partner and my 7yr old granddaughter also becoming a permnant fixture in my life.
  • I had lost touch with my creative spark and had reached the point of wondering if it would ever return.

So what took me out of it in the end?

  • During a visit to the NSW Art Gallery, I found and bought a book on watercolours by Shirley Trevena which I really loved.
  • I began teaching some new watercolour students and decided to redo all my watercolour sample exercises for them, which I had originally done years ago.
  • As I played around with my student’s exercises I began to appreciate and study Shirley’s book a lot more intently.  I was drawn to her work because of the brilliant colour and wonderfully loose painting style she has along with a great gift for stunning compositions. Also I began appreciating the subtlety of colour layering which can be achieved relatively quickly with watercolours, compared to oils.  Layering has appeared in my work in many different forms over the years,  so I was suddenly excited again, to be exploring this new aspect of something that has always fascinated me.
  • The other thing that worked for me with this is that I have a space in my office now with my watercolours permanently set up and I can just fit in a brush stroke or two whenever I get the chance. It makes it so much easier for me to create.
  • As you can see it was not any one thing that created this shift, but a series of events that led me to find my way again.   I was drawn to Shirley’s book, but if I hadn’t bought it this sequence of events might have either never happened, or taken much longer.  It is interesting because at the time I bought the book I was really thinking it would be good for some of my more advanced students and the furthest thing from my mind was for me to explore watercolour painting further.
Still Life - After Shirley Trevena

Still Life – After Shirley Trevena

Also don’t be afraid to copy the work of artists you admire, as I have here.  Assimilate their techniques and the things you love about their work and then begin applying them to your own original compositions. Copying ‘The Masters’ is a time honoured tradition in the art world.  All our learning is built on the shoulders of the artists that have gone before us.  Use what they know as there is much we can learn from them.

In conclusion, I would suggest that you follow those inner urges, like my visit to the art gallery bookshop because you never know where it’s going to lead you.  The creative journey is not a straightforward one, it involves many twists and turns and what we sometimes think are blind alleys, miraculously turn out to be fascinatingly fortuitous event in the end.

This Weeks Question: If you are feeling blocked, what is some small sideways step that you might take in order to still be moving forward on your creative journey?


Pix Credit: Ronnieb

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