Thursday, April 8, 2010

Receiving Inspiration

"Girls Night Out"
© J. Licsko 03
12" x 9" oil on canvas
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Visual artists
often find the inspiration they need by exposing themselves to music, film, dance, literature and other mediums of expression. These different arts can lift us emotionally, and although we may not reflect the source in our work, the exposure often charges our batteries. We return to our work nourished and freshened.

I was invited to vacation with my mother in Las Vegas recently. The purpose was to wind down, do a little shopping, and enjoy our mother-daughter time together relaxing in the sun. I admit to previously judging Vegas as a little too plastic, too make believe. By the fourth day of this trip, I started to see Las Vegas in a different, more positive light, through more open eyes. Las Vegas can teach us a lot about creativity, promotion, and marketing.

We artists, create something of ourselves, for ourselves. We hope that it also will be desired by others. Las Vegas is a highly successful collective creation, and masterful at the art of seduction. Las Vegas knows its identity, makes no apologies, knows its target audience, caters to what it wants, and introduces its audience to new wants. Artists should know themselves, accept themselves, and search for the audience that both wants their work, and will support it.

In successful paintings, the eye is drawn from place to place by line; painters choose and arrange forms, lines, and textures composing the right balance to please the eye, and keep keep the viewer's eye on the painting .

Visualizing "The Strip" as a canvas, the relative ease of travel on the surface streets and freeways, impressed on me that the city designers are artists in what they do. Architectural forms must work within their layout. The Strip architecture ranges from crass midway style, to the sophistication of the Wynn Tower, but it all works together, and when seen from afar, it makes a strong, identifiable statement. A jumble of themes and styles come together on many layers. Shapes and strokes of color create an appealing patina, strengthened by daring compositions.

As if the desert sun alone isn't enough of a light source, it is enhanced by the equally powerful, endlessly moving, advertising light show. The variety, intensity, and volume is almost too much for the senses. These lights call us, offering a pleasing mosaic of images that represent the always changing, yet always distinct identity of Las Vegas.

A+ to famed architect Frank Gehry's design of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health building. I see this as Frank Gehry's gift to the right brained of the world. Best seen during the side-angled light of early morning or sunset, it is absolutely wonderful!

A good place to get a sense of scale, the Hoover Dam itself is worth the trip, but the ongoing construction of the new Hoover Dam Bypass, is truly awesome. The longest concrete arch in North America, the graceful design illustrates "less is more" driving home the painting lesson: "know when to quit". Both structures reinforce reverence for human ability. The two angel statues on the Nevada side of the dam are the strikingly elegant "Winged Figures" by sculptor Oskar Hansen, put in place in 1935. Realists will fully appreciate sculptor Steven Liguori's work "High Scaler" and his ability to make us feel the weight of the man and the tension of the ropes.

In the old days of art, the patron was essential, or little great art would have been funded. The combination of the patron, Steve Wynn, and the creator, Franco Dragone, results in Le Reve, a multi-faceted work of art. The synergy created from hundreds of individual artists and technicians elevates and transforms the show's audience. Each performer brings aesthetics, intelligence, perseverance, and the infectious joy of doing what one loves. The nature of the physical work these young artists do, results in truly flawless physical specimens, both male and female. The choreography assembles these perfect forms into ideal compositions, every angle well thought out and executed as in the finest painting. Colors by the millions saturated my cells. The lighting, spectacular beyond description, lit both artist and audience, melding us together. For ninety minutes we were transported, in awe of the vision, the setting, the music. The energy generated by the performers, and their dedication to perfection, is an achievement worth respect, and a testament to teamwork.

If you are thinking there are better shows, you've missed my point. Any show, painting, building, bridge is successful when all the needed elements come together at the right time, in accord with the vision. Though not necessarily painters, Las Vegas is abundant with artists at the top of their game. Their energy feeds me.

I am once again reminded of the heights mankind is capable of, and that it is my duty, my privilege, and to my benefit to support it when I am able. Dipping my psyche into the pool of dreams and illusion, I surfaced feeling revitalized. I return, and like the angel statues at the Hoover Dam, whose toes are polished from continuous human touch, all my nerve endings are polished a little. I am receptive. I am inspired.


  1. Oh my, I wish I could be there,on the girls night out!! :O)
    This is what I would call solid as a rock way of using paint,playing with composition,making a mysterious invitation to the world of RED!!!

  2. Aleks, What lovely words, thank you!

  3. Joanne, i will probably always think of Las Vegas in a different light after having read this! i love the composition and lighting, and the title so apt. r.

  4. Very interesting to read here in your blog. YOu have great ideas! Go on that way!


  5. I am an architect and an artist...I thoroughly enjoyed your comments on LV. Very insightful. You might like to look at "Learning from Las Vegas" by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. It was a critical success at the time it was printed and on the must read list of every architecture student in the eighties. It was shocking at the time. Pretty tame from this vantage point some 20-30 years later!

    Your painting is a lovely little study. 20 dollar bills help any composition!!!

  6. emailed in from June at

    I sensed the vanity in this painting but saw practical side in your writing.
    "We artists... create something of ourselves, for ourselves.. ..Artists should know themselves, accept themselves, and search for the audience that both wants their work, and will support it."
    I think these words are not only meaningful for artists, but people in all positions and professions.
    Thanks for sharing your great arts and insights. ..... June

  7. Rahina, thank you for your comments. I'd love to hear your impression if you go.
    e-mobile - Thanks! It is not clear if you (the writer) are Danielle. If so, I love your painting "The Journey of Love". A fellow Canuck, eh? Nice to meet you.
    Kaylyn - Thanks, and thanks for pointing out the work of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. There is not much to be found on the web, so I will look at the library for more. I can see evidence of architecture in your paintings. Light and structure particularly in "White Urn Vase with Apples". I enjoyed both your blogs.
    June - Thank you for your comments. I am seeing a lot of people are having trouble with their blogs these days. I am too. I have too much space under my photo and an extra icon that I did not put there. I hope things improve with blogger soon.

  8. It sounds like your trip was wonderfully rejuvenating Joanne.... to be able to step back and consider things from a different perspective is ALWAYS rewarding but to also become inspired by your new perspective.... well that just is the cake topper, isn't it?

  9. Wonderful composition with all those diagonals and that one vertical. Beautifully painted, as always, it has such a warm inviting glow and I love the combination of the lipstick and money.
    I love it Joanne!

  10. Dreamwoven - It was rejuvenating in so many ways. I had my mother all to myself for a whole week. It was great!
    Paul - Thank you! I look to you for instruction on citrus though. Your latest painting is a real gem!

  11. Joanne, I am a Landscape Architect/Artist and appreciate your insight into the mechanics of architecture/city planning. I've really enjoyed reading your blog.

  12. Hello Lori, thank you for your kind comments. You have some lovely paintings on your blog. Sunrise on Beach Avenue, and Jadite are two of my favorites.

  13. Thank-you for the comment on my blog.

    Not being computer savvy I jusfound it.

  14. You are welcome Sharon, your September 27th post was interesting as well.