An Amateur Artist Finds Art Nouveau Inspiration
Discovery and Inspiration
In the course of completing a drawing for the internet, I began to experience something of a waning of contentment with the elements I had chosen for the background. I had gotten close to completion of the subject of the drawing and was preparing to move on to the rest of it when, with the loss of a dissipating motivation, the lack of contentment turned into a kind of block that lasted for weeks. The drawing remained unfinished for over a month.
In the meantime, I had been attending meetings of the art group I had joined some months before I began the drawing. One of the central activities of the group is the sharing of our respective works and projects in progress or completion, and any discoveries made in the area of art (i.e. books, exhibits, shows, etc.). At one of the meetings there had been a rather healthy turnout and the members had a lot to share. Among the many works and items being shared and shown, was a book which contained samples of art work I had never seen before by a painter I hadn't heard of. As my luck always seems to have it, I got my chance to examine the book just before I had to leave. So, my time with the book was limited and I had reservations about asking to borrow it as I didn't know when I would see the owner again. I only attended, at most, twice a month and I didn't want to risk holding on to the book longer than the owner would have wished. I was astounded by what I saw. I was almost unable to tear myself away from the book. Just before the meeting broke up for the day, I got a quick look at the name of the artist and a little of the write-up about him. The artist's name was Alfons Mucha (1860-1939).
I looked him up at my earliest opportunity. Once again I was astounded by his work. I was particularly attracted to his use of text. Though the pieces I saw were commercial in nature, they were so decorative and what text they contained was so well worked into the decor of the borders and background, that it didn't take away from the beauty of the piece as text can when added to a piece of art. Particularly when the purpose of the text is commercial. His use of decorative borders coupled with simply shaded and subtly detailed backgrounds suggested an economy of effort that I personally found quite appealing. It was while looking at his work that I began to remember when I was in high school and I did pictures of girls' names at their request. When I began to remember the decorative embellishments I used on my high school drawings, the image of the drawing I had been stalled out and blocked on came into my head. Then the lights started to come on. I could see the drawing surrounded with a decorative border that I thought would be appropriate for the subject of the drawing. The top of the drawing I saw headed with the title I had intended in a decorative typeface. With this inspiration came the return of my lost motivation.
Source of the Inspiration
Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) was one of the best known artists of the international Art Nouveau movement. Among his best known works are his posters, particularly those created in Paris for Sarah Bernhardt from 1894 on including "Gismonda", and his panneaux decoratifs. He also did a great amount of advertising illustrations. Also, beginning in 1918, he designed stamps for Czechoslovakia, a newly founded state at that time. He also received many commissions for works of art from the national state of Czechoslovakia.
All of the work that I've seen by him is breath taking and continues to serve as inspiration.
The Result of the Inspiration
The type of work that Alfons Mucha did suggested to me a practical solution to a couple of somewhat minor problems. The inspiration his work provided granted a rather significant enhancement to the appearance of my drawing. It also spoke to the simplicity of my sense of expression. I've always considered myself rather simplistic in my thinking, and that shows itself in my artwork. I've never been one to attempt complex or comprehensive conceptual communication in my drawing. If I attempt to communicate anything at all, whatever message I try to send or portray, I try to keep simple. When I was young, I was in the habit of including a lot of text in my artwork, but, later, taking the artwork of those around me as an example, I avoided including text in my work. It never occurred to me to use text (decoratively or otherwise) in my work to express or communicate any concepts or messages. Seeing Alfons Mucha's work has changed my outlook on how I express myself in my artwork.
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