Study the life’s work and the life of an artist.
Go to a museum. Look at the Picasso and the Dali (Pieces by these artists seem to be in EVERY museum), of course, but make a real effort to seek out the works of art by artists you’ve never heard of, the artists without the big names. Read the white placards. Always so elegantly written and so perfectly concise, providing just the right amount of information as you stand before and view the original works.
But the information gathering shouldn’t end there. Though the story is the art, there’s always more to the story. Curate your own retrospective of an artist using the web, books, museums, museum bookstores, and even postcards. An author may only write one book, a filmmaker just a few films, but an artist usually builds an expansive body of work. A single painting — or a few paintings — in a museum is just a starting off point.
I’m a sucker. I admit that I went through an Andy Warhol phase. I sought out his art in every museum I visited, even read his books and watched his movies. I also read books and watched film documentaries about him. I didn’t just appreciate his art — I wanted to live his life as an artist, with my very own Factory. I also went through a Dali phase. Again, I sought out the art, read the books, and claimed to “get” Un Chien Andalou. I’m such a poser that right after I saw the movie Surviving Picasso, I started painting. Give me a break.
But regardless of my clichéd responses to these artists, I learned a great deal about their lives and their art. And I got inspired… to create, to make things, even to paint, despite a total lack of both talent and technique. These days I make an effort to discover and learn about lesser known artists, whose names I have never heard of and whose work I have never seen before. But I still entertain dreams of one day having my own Warhol-like Factory, silver balloons and all.