When I ask my students at the School of the Art Institute where they find their images, many of them answer that they use Google Image Searches. While I have found lots of great images online (including the gate for this piece...), my favorite place to look for images not to mention my favorite remedy for artists block is the Image File Collection downtown at the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. I'm crazy about the alphabetical references outside each drawer alone, but the contents are even better. I always find something to love.
Today, in my pursuit of images relating to the Swiss Family Robinson, I went looking for pictures of tree houses. I was really disapointed to find that folder completely empty (where is it?!), but tried to remind myself that the Image Files are a journey, not a destination. A park ranger in California once gave Katy and I that advice on our way to Big Sur. At the time, we were asking directions, and this advice was not particularly useful. Nevertheless, we took her advice and drove on down highway one with smiles on our faces. I'm not sure if we ever did find Big Sur, but it was a really amazing drive.
Anyhow....one thing led to another, and as you can see from this photograph, Treehouses are right next to Travelers, where I found these festive images. Like the Swiss Family Robinson, they certainly seem suggestive of adventure.....
Not to be deterred by a measly missing file folder, I decided to switch gears and look at ships. The Picture Files started in the forties with what I like to imagine as a room full of well dressed older ladies, scissors, typewriters and glue pots sitting neatly next to them as they flip through piles of Life Magazines whilst smoking their cigarettes. Fitting for the time in which they started collecting, under ships there are piles and piles of nuclear powered navy boats, but sadly not as many 19th century Schooners as I had hoped for. However, I did find some interesting images of ship builders, shown below.
I sort of love that these are models. The story of the Swiss Family Robinson is also completely fictitious, and it seems somehow appropriate that the ship be kitchen table sized. As I start to think about embroidering ships, drawing tree-houses, recreating a crystalline cave, I like thinking about all the other people that have.
As you go about creating new work, where do you look for inspiration?