I have heard of the artist’s muse and wondered if this is something real or more of an idea. Are artists inspired by real people in their lives? Are there any examples with the artists you have worked with?
An artist’s muse is real and can serve as a huge inspiration for an artist, sending them on a new trajectory. A muse is often thought of as someone the artist is romantically involved with. This is certainly one source of inspiration. A lesser-known type of muse is an artist’s first, newborn child. Newborn babies and young children are often a catalyst for an artist to explore a completely new technique or genre in painting. There are so many emotions running through an artist during this time that it becomes a haven for new ideas and directions in their art.
The long sleepless nights may contribute some too! We have three examples of artists who took inspiration in their newborn children: Will Barnet (1911-2012), Ellie
Barnet, and Reynier Llanes. Each of these artists pushed themselves forward in new directions during a period coinciding with the births of their firstborn children. These
artists each incorporated their young muses as subjects in their work creating new styles inspired with the deep emotions that occur with the birth of a child. The first example dates back to the 40s with Will Barnet. Before his first child was born, he was a social realist, depicting images of the Depression. This shifted dramatically to cubism with the birth of his firstborn son who served as the subject of several of his new work in cubism. Will Barnet shifted away from cubism but continued to take great inspiration from his family for much of his career and incorporating them as subjects in most of his figurative works.
Ellie Barnet, is following in her grandfather’s footsteps and also took inspiration in the birth of her child. We saw a wonderful shift in Ellie Barnet’s works. In her earlier works, Ellie depicted figures and landscapes separately. Around the birth of her first child, we witnessed a shift where she began to merge the foregrounds and backgrounds in such a way that the images interplay. Ellie Barnet has used this beautiful and intriguing technique in painting her daughter.
The third artist who found a muse in his newborn child is Reynier Llanes. In 2020, we saw an enormous leap forward in Reynier’s work which coincided with the birth of his son. He transitioned to using fewer details in his work allowing the viewer’s mind to fill in where he left off. Comparing it to writing, it is a sign of good writer when he can convey more using fewer words in a concise manner. These special young muses influence artists in a way that will continue to be appreciated in the decades and even possibly centuries to come.
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FEATURED ART “Blue Blanket” by Will Barnet (1911-2012) Oil on Canvas 25” x 30”, 1944