A Date With Inspiration

Inspiration; a word that gets tossed around a lot. What does it mean to be inspired?

For me, inspiration requires action, otherwise it's just an empty word. So, thanks to my friends Glenda Watson Hyatt and Deb Brown,  I found myself in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to visit The National Czech & Slovak Museum's latest exhibit, "Alphonse Mucha; Inspirations of Art Nouveau".

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If you've been paying attention to the blog you know that I'm an artist - or, at least, a reasonable facsimile. I have modern technology to thank for my being able to express myself artistically (albeit a hand injury has forced what I'm hoping is a temporary hiatus from artwork). I have Alphonse Mucha to thank for being a huge inspiration in what I do.

‡ Images pictured are as follows: Top Left - Princess Hyacinth, Bottom Left - Bieres de la Meuse ©Alphonse Mucha; Top Right - Princess Hyacinth Redux, Bottom Right - Giselle ©Alicia Searcy @ Gallery Celesta.

To have had the opportunity to experience his life's work in photographs, lithographs, posters, jewelry, interior design elements, and paintings meant the world to me. I spent just under 4 hours marvelling at a body of work that changed the world. What I witnessed was no mere collection of pretty pictures but rather a testament of purpose-driven, nonverbal storytelling. It opened up a whole new level of understanding about the process of translating inspiration to execution. It changed me and the way I approach the creative process forever.

So what does one wear to a life-changing event like this?

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How about a dark lavender Vivienne Tam dress, my trusty grey ankle boots from Shi, a wide grey belt from Target, and some Art Nouveau inspired jewelry from The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which is my local museum. The forecast was for rain and it was raining through the early morning. I came prepared with a lightweight black windbreaker and purple hat but as soon as we arrived at the museum the rain stopped altogether, the clouds parted, and the sun shone. It was...perfect.

Are you inspired yet? What are you going to do about it?

Get Out Your Crayons

Metaphorically speaking, of course. Here's where the fun (read work) starts.

There is no better way to start this journey into finding your own personal style than to start with color. Wearing the best colors for you is the quickest, cheapest way of making yourself look good. Color doesn't care if you're broke or broken. But you have to be careful when you choose your next article of clothing. Court the right color and it can make you look like a beauty queen just as surely as the wrong one can make you look like you have the flu.

Most people don't really give the subject of color much thought. They either surrender to looking monastic as they enshroud themselves in neutrals or they pile on the colors until they look like a pinata - or anything in between. And it's no small wonder when you consider how intimidating and  confusing it can be. I'm sure most of you have heard of people having their colors "done" and being told they are a "winter" or a "spring". What does this mean? It never made any sense to me. A "summer" should wear nothing but pastels even though they drain your complexion of all color as you age? A "fall" can only wear rust and gold?

There is an easier way. No, I take that back. There is a clearer way - at least, it's clearer to me. As an artist I work with color all the time, but it was only after I read a book called "What You Wear Can Change Your Life" by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine that it all clicked in my head. There are three main color groups. Blue-based colors are cool, yellow-based colors are warm, mid-toned colors are more muted than blue-based yet cooler than yellow-based.

Here are the three shades of red courtesy of the PalsyCam. Yes, I know it's fuzzy but I want you to pay attention to the different shades of color and nothing else; those are clearly distinguishable.

Right now I'll bet you're thinking this is all as clear as mud. How am I supposed to know which group will look best on me - and which other colors belong in that group?

Stick around. All shall be revealed.