Tag Archives: Inspiration

New York Stories (1989) – Life Lessons: Artist and his Muse

24 Jun

I am currently rereading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir “Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America” and her vivid descriptions of growing up in 1970s and early 1980s New York made me fantasise about the city that inspired so many artists and bands that I love, from Jackson Pollock and Velvet Underground, to Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, ad Public Enemy. Drawn by the title alone, I decided to watch again the omnibus film “New York Stories” (1989) which consists of three shorter parts, three different little stories, each showing a fragment from the city’s busy life.

Nick Nolte as Lionel Dobie

My favourite short film is the first one called “Life Lessons”, directed by Martin Scorsese. I tells a tale of a middle aged painter Lionel Dobie (played by Nick Nolte) and his beautiful blonde twenty-two year old assistant, ex-lover and muse Paulette (played by Rosanna Arquette). At the beginning of the film, Lionel is madly infatuated with Paulette, but she doesn’t want to be his lover anymore, and decides to stay living with him only to gain some artistic advice and direction. It’s killing Lionel to think that she might leave him, and this turmoil is further deepened by the fact that his big show is in three weeks and he doesn’t have inspiration. Lionel begs her to stay, saying: “You stretch canvases, run a few errands, you got your own room, a studio, life lessons that are priceless, plus a salary.” But of course, he isn’t just interested in things being beneficial for her, they both take advantage of each other; Paulette sees Lionel as a way of getting into posh art circles and a way of learning how to paint better, and it’s obvious why Lionel would benefit from having such a hot young chic around his studio.

Although Paulette returns to live with Lionel in the beginning of the film, she admits that she had an affair with a performance artist. She is now heartbroken and homesick, and she feels her life and her art career aren’t going anywhere. Although he is at first angry at this betrayal, Lionel soon starts to feel how this wild range of emotions; anger, jealousy, uncertainty, longings, frustrations, are all fueling his creativity. And this is where the exciting part comes in; Lionel painting on his huge canvases. Although it isn’t stated, I think he would be an abstract Neo-expressionist painter. He is filling the lonely white empty space of his canvases in abstract shapes and swirls, painting in bold colours and impasto layers which seem like it would take them ages to dry. The close-ups on the colour, all bright and tangible, yellow, red, blue, filled me with ecstasy! Watching those scenes made me finally understand why Vincent van Gogh would eat his paint out of a tube. I wanna lick that paint of the canvas when I see it on the film. I wanna touch it, smear it, leave it everywhere. What an ecstasy it must have been then, to see Jackson Pollock paint his masterpieces!?

I love it how whenever Lionel’s frustration reaches its peak; for example when he hears Paulette talking on the phone to someone, presumably some young man, or when he sees her wrapped only in a robe and making herself a cup of tea in the kitchen, so when his jealousy and passion that he has to tame are at their peak, he goes into his industrial looking studio, puts on a cassette, which is covered with paint flakes just as the cassette player is, and the super groovy soundtrack begins… he is standing in front of the canvas while the music plays “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Like a Rolling Stone”. Like a wild shamanistic process which purges him from negative emotions, frees him from the miseries and translates them into the language of the colour and patterns on the canvas. Here is a video with shots from the film and Rolling Stones’s song “Paint it Black” as a background music. You will see here the shots of him painting and you will understand quite well what I am talking about here, it’s something that you just gotta see.

The story was loosely inspired by Dostoevsky’s tale “White Nights” first published in 1848. In the story a nameless narrator is telling us about his lonely life in Saint Petersburg and his encounter with a pretty young girl whose lover had abandoned her. He is a dreamer, and she is naive and heartbroken. They befriend, but in the end the girl’s lover returns and she goes with him, leaving the narrator’s hopes for love broken. The story ends with the narrator getting a letter from the girl who is informing him that she is getting married. He is devastated by this news, but remains happy that at least he had a a few moments of bliss and companionship in his lonely miserable life. One can see the connection between Dostoevsky’s story and “Life Lessons” but I think the nameless narrator and Lionel are totally different men; while the narrator’s spirit is broken and he is devastated when she leaves him, Lionel needs a younger woman to inspire him, but he can get a new one any time, it isn’t about Paulette, it is the whole cycle of possessiveness, jealousy, passion and unrequited element of his love affairs which fuels his creativity and ultimately inspires his chaotic art.

In the end, here is Paulette, who is an aspiring artist, with her painting which I quite like! The two figures look like they belong to some other world, the paler one is taking the other by the hand and perhaps leading it to some better place, like Orpheus taking the Euridice from the underworld… and ultimately failing.

I also want to share with you the words that Lionel told to Paulette when she questioned him whether she is any good at painting. He had little comment on her paintings after she showed them to him and so she asked him:

“Tell me if I have any talent or if you think I’m just wasting my time. Because sometimes I feel I should just quit… because… Just tell me what you think.”

And he tells her something which I think all struggling artists should hear: “What the hell difference does it make what I think. It’s yours. I mean, you make art because you have to, ’cause you got no choice. It’s not about talent, it’s about no choice but to do it. Are you any good? Well, you’re 22, so who knows? Who cares? You wanna give it up? You give it up and you weren’t a real artist to begin with.”

Advertisements

My Inspiration for May 2019

31 May

Month of May being such a romantic and flowery time of the year my imagination took me to the world of Gothic novels, castles with their dungeons and towers, white Regency gowns and handsome Byronic heroes, flower gardens, brides, painting of girls in white having their first communion, cozy cottages, Chateau de Chillon and the Romantics who visited it… Still very much captivated by the film “Taxi Driver” (1976) and Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights which I am thinking about reading again. I started reading a book “The Madwoman in the Attic” and I loved all the chapters that I have read so far, but in particular I enjoyed the chapter about Emily Dickinson and I found the ideas from her poetry and letters highly relatable. I definitely recommend the book!

Also, these lines from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” cannot seem to leave my head:

“I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.”

My discoveries this month were one pretty little poem by Keats called “Where be ye going, you Devon maid?”, Milan Kundera’s short story collection “Laughable Loves”, Anais Nin’s dreamy stream of conscience novel “The Children of the Albatross” which I enjoyed but I still think her Journal of Love is way more interesting, I started reading H.D. Lawrence’s novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and I find it interesting, but not as much as I had hoped. beautiful melodies by Fauré such as Dolly’s Garden and Élegié, Paul Weller’s song “Brand New Start” and his cover of the song “Wishing on a Star”.

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”

(Wuthering Heights)

Picture found here.

Photo by Stefany Alves.

Francoise Hardy – Waiting for the Muse

16 May

I recently stumbled upon these photographs of Francoise Hardy taken by Jean-Marie Périer in 1964 and I wanted to share them because they are interesting. I love the sixties, I love some of her music that I’ve listened to, but also these five pictures on their own are fascinating because they show a creative process that an artist goes through; from feeling bored and uninspired, to writing and trying and being disappointed and giving up, and trying again, until that something you are working on feels right. I am sure anyone reading this and seeing these pics who is also an artist in one way or another can relate.

My Favourite Books Ever

7 May

One of the most asked questions I get here on the blog is about my reading tastes and books that I can recommend, so I decided to make a list of my favourite books to satisfy your curiosity once and for all. My reading tastes are somewhat eclectic, I am aware of that, and even though I don’t read that many books I tend to enjoy most of them so it was quite hard to chose the most beloved ones. If I don’t like a book, I will just stop reading it and it’s that simple. So when I do proceed with reading the book, that is already a sure sign I enjoy it. Also, I’ve put links to the posts which are either book reviews or something similar connected with the book. If you’ve enjoyed any of these books, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Ivan Kramskoy, Books Got Her, 1872

  1. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

2. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

3. Eugene Onegin, by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

4. No Longer Human, by Osamu Dazai

5. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

6. Of Love and Other Demons, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

7. Tristessa, by Jack Kerouac

8. Journal of Love: Henry and June, also the second part called Journal of Love: Incest, by Anais Nin

9. Before Night Falls, by Reinaldo Arenas

10. Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel

11. Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides

12. Girl, Interrupted, by Susana Kaysen

13. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

14. Novel with Cocaine, by Mihail Ageyev

15. Crime and Punishment, by Dostoyevsky

16. Naomi, by Junichiro Tanizaki

17. The Three-Cornered World, by Natsume Soseki

18. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

19. Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

20. Love in the Times of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

21. Norwegian Woods, by Haruki Murakami

22. Mathilda, by Mary Shelley

23. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

24. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen

25. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

26. Letters to Milena, by Franz Kafka

27. The Fall of the House of Usher, and other stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe

28. Short story “Broken Blossoms” by Thomas Burke

My Inspiration for April 2019

30 Apr

I can hardly believe May has arrived already! Days drag slowly, yet time flies. Another May upon, another sweet May with its roses and sunshine. This month I finally read Charles Bukowski’s novel “Ham on Rye” and I really enjoyed it, it was interesting and funny, his witty remarks, cynicism towards society and other people, disregard for society’s customs and the proper way of living sure appeal to me, but at the same time I, as a big romantic and idealist, feel that the main character’s negative outlook on life is making him forgetting the beautiful little things in life such as flowers, birds, special moments in nature, dandelions, watching clouds. There is so much beauty to see for eyes that want to see. And speaking of beauty in everyday life, I was also into studio Ghibli films and watched “Spirited Away” and “When Marnie was There”; these films are so aesthetically enjoyable to watch and they make everything seem so magical, even if it’s mundane and boring, especially the little things in life like making bread, tending to your garden, everything is veiled in quiet gentle beauty and it makes you feel glad that you are alive so you may enjoy it. A dead person cannot smell flowers, so being alive is a luxury. I discovered new songs by The National, a really cool band that I think everyone should check out. And tulips, yes I must not forget tulips, I feel such affection for them, my heart beats faster when I see them. How could I not see their beauty all these years, I wonder.

“I’m always dreaming, even when I’m awake; it is never finished.”

(Peter Beagle, The Last Unicorn)

 

Edwardian blouse, photo found here.

Photo by Stefany Alves.

Photo of a little Edwardian girl, found here.

My Inspiration for March 2019

31 Mar

The air is filled with flowery scent and that sweet spring indolence! The most beautiful of days are upon us as the flowers start blooming one by one. I scarcely had time to do anything else apart from admiring every blooming tree that my eyes saw; cherries, apples, magnolias… I have spring-themed paintings in mind, Monet’s waterlilies and meadows, and doll-like fashion. But I did read two great novels, very exciting reads; “Sputnik Sweetheart” by Haruki Murakami and “Shanghai Baby” by Wei Hui. In both novels, the heroines are aspiring writers and topic of sexuality and finding success as a writer is tackled. Both novels were originally published in 1999. I really recommend them both. In “Sputnik Sweetheart” the main character Sumire falls in love for the first time in her life in the spring of her 22nd year, and her love interest is a woman seventeen years her senior. In “Shanghai Baby”, the main character is a 25 year old struggling writer Coco (based on the writer herself) who lives with her impotent, artistic and very gentle boyfriend Tian Tian who later becomes addicted to opium. I loved the fact that it was set in Shanghai because Wei Hui really brought the atmosphere to life and I loved the sensuality and rich lyrical writing, and the fact that every chapter started with a quote from some Western writer. I love references to other novels and artworks.

Take good care of your love. Love’s the most powerful thing on earth. It can make you fly and forget everything else. A child like you would be ruined in no time without love – you’ve no immunity against life.” (Shanghai Baby)

Picture by paperdolly.

Christophe Jacrot (French, b. 1960, Paris, France) – Oil 6, 2009-2011 Photography

Magnolias, by Hannah Queen.

Monet’s house&garden, Giverny, France by  Rick Ligthelm

Cottage garden by  Georgianna Lane

Laura Makabresku, Der Erlkönig, 2015

Fashion Inspiration for Spring: Pretty in Pink

8 Mar

Spring is undoubtedly the best time of the year to wear pretty clothes and also a perfect time to compete with the vibrant flowers that fill the landscape where ever you turn. Who wore a white dress better: you or a daisy? Who looks better in light pink: you or the cherry tree blossom? Who looks more fresh and radiant in pale green: you or the newly awaken leaves on the weeping willow trees? Now’s the time to find out! But don’t be intimidated; flowers are so naturally pretty indeed from dawn to dusk and need no jewellery or make up to embellish themselves, but whereas they have to make do with the same colour and shape of petals all their short life, we can change our petals and be a new flower every day! Let’s be vain us peacocks and dress like there is nothing more important in the world, there isn’t in fact, aesthetic is everything. These days I am so in love with that cute, romantic, doll-like look; Japanese fashion mostly, pink, white, lilac, baby blue colours, flowery, gingham print, old lace, rosy cheeks, ribbons and flower crowns, childish stuff, Marie Antoinette vibe, pink eye shadow and glitter everywhere, childlike clothes of 1960s worn by Anna Karina and Yé yé singers, Brooke Shield’s outfits in the film “Pretty Baby” (1978), hats with flowers and ribbons, dresses that look like wedding dresses… These days I even want to wear a kimono!

Pic found here.

Pic found here.

Handmade dress, found here.

Eleanor Hardwick shoots for Rookie Mag

Pic found here.

Pics found here.

Pics found here.

Art by Lethe, found here.

Pic found here.

Pic found here.

Pic found here.

Pic found here.