Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where Inspiration Grows

I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Donna Watson, a post called The Search For Meaning: Self Awareness. The title alone called out to the mystic, the artist and the art therapist in me. As I read, I came to this question:

I eventually realized that there is more to a work of art. I wanted to find meaning in my work... I started making lists as I went deeper and identified my likes, my interests, and my strengths...Have you figured out your list? 

As I read and looked at her images, it struck me that images themselves are a form of sanctuary for many of us--not only the creating of images, but the consequent viewing of our own and those of other artists.

Donna's words spoke to me. I've made plenty of To Do lists, mapping out my day, but never an accounting of where I find visual meaning.  I wanted my list to include things that have inspired me through the years, things that fuel my work and which, I've discovered, help form my own inner strengths.

To that end, I'm making my list. I invite you to make your own and share it with us.
1. Quilts:

How I start to make a quilt, all I do is start sewing and it just comes to me. My daughter asked me the other day what I was making, and I said, "I don't know yet; I'm just sewing pieces together," and the quilt looked pretty good. No pattern. I usually don't use a pattern, only my mind.  Lorraine Pettway, quilter

Dancing Rings, ©2007, Hannah Hunter, 48" x 60," Cloth
2. Sheer, unbridaled color:

All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites. Mark Chagall

3. Mandalas:

When I began drawing the mandalas, however, I saw that everything, all the paths I had been following, all the steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point-namely, to the midpoint...It is the path to the center, to individuation.  C. G. Jung from Memories, Dreams and Reflections

Thangka painting of Vajradhatu Mandala

4. Tree of Life:

Oh, I who long to grow
I look outside myself, and the tree
inside me grows.  Ranier Marie Rilke

5. Indian gouache paintings:

The Goddess Shakti taking the form of a triangle brings forth the three worlds. Jnarnava, Chapter X

Rajasthan, c. 17th century, Gouache on paper

6. Ancient Manuscripts:

Without traditional wisdom, the language would be but a skeleton without flesh, a body without a soul.   Zulu proverb from South Africa

Hebrew manuscript from the Bodleian Library, Oxford University


  1. Thank you Hannah for the thought provoking post. You are right about creating things that we find sanctuary in. I painted a large piece twenty years ago that I really love. (If I may say so myself.) When I had my eye surgery I looked at it with fresh eyes, literally and figuratively, and was surprised at what I had painted. It took me in in a different way with appreciation for what had been and what I could see now. By the way I love your second piece, vibrant and comforting at the same time.

  2. Thank you Beth. It's fascinating how a change in outer vision can create a change in inner vision:)

  3. Hi Hannah
    I also loved the recent 'list post' by Donna Watson...simply sumptuous...and I also find so many delights here in yours.

    I'm so glad that you took us on this journey with you...wonderful discoveries...visual sanctuaries all.

  4. Donna, thank you--what a great term: visual sanctuaries.

  5. Oh my! What a wonderful pleasant surprise to come here and find my name and blog mentioned and that my post inspired your post! My 'google alerts' has let me down and did not 'alert'me :-) You have come up with a fabulous list of what inspires you and informs you as an artist.

  6. You are a thinking artist Hannah. I thank you for the Carl Jung quote in particular.

  7. Your blog always makes me think about what I do, and why. It comes at a good time as I ponder remarks I will make regarding a new body of work I just completed; why did I decide to go this direction? I look forward to the process of discovery inspired by your post.

  8. I'm so glad you discovered it Donna. Your list was a great inspiration and had me thinking in ways that I haven't for sometime. I had a great time hauling out books and looking at authors who've inspired me. All things I need to do more of:)

    And Leslie--I've been turning over your lovely compliment in my mind. I like it. And the quote by Jung--so rich and generative. I first came across his writings on mandalas many years ago in graduate school.

    Patty--I look forward to reading what you come up with. I'm guessing you are talking about your upcoming show at LUX--keep me posted.