Inspiration fodder for my dragons

A spark of an idea is all very well and good, but it needs to be more than just a spark before it can turn into a painting…

So, I’ve been hunting for inspiration.

And, it turns out inspiration has been finding me as well! It’s amazing what’s turned up. Today, I’m sharing 3 inspirational sources that have been feeding my dragons.

1. Rembrandt

I came across the Finding Rembrandt course by Chris Knight at just the right time. It starts with a brief but fascinating look at Rembrandt’s place in history during the Dutch Golden Age. Then a study of Rembrandt’s paintings and the light and style he’s famous for. And finally, how to create his artistic style in photography.

Notes on the Finding Rembrandt course by Chris Knight (with calligraphy pen and ink to fit the era).
After copious notes (with calligraphy pen and ink to fit the era)…

The thing is, I don’t have the fancy lights like soft boxes, flags, and back lights. But I do have what Rembrandt had – a window!

One of my photographs experimenting with Rembrandt's style and lighting.
I found a light-filled window to experiment with Rembrandt-style photos.

2. Cut! Costume and the Cinema

On now at the Waikato Museum, Cut! Costume and the Cinema is an exhibition of historical movie costumes. Think films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, The Duchess… And yes, these are the actual costumes worn by the stars!

The style, fabrics, construction, and embellishments are immaculately researched and crafted. With attention to detail right down to making the clothes look lived in or worn. (One of the tricks of the trade is a cheese grater!)

A photo at Cut! Costume and the Cinema - an exhibition at the Waikato Museum.
I spent hours among the silks and satins, lace and brocade…

Cut! Costume and the Cinema is on until the 21st of July so there’s still time if you want to have a look.

3. 15th – 19th century European masters

I found myself in Sydney with a free afternoon. I’d had enough of all the concrete and glass, the constant growl of engines, the acrid smog and fumes, and most definitely, all the people! So I pointed myself in the direction of a green park and a nice, quiet art gallery.

And, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, I found a whole room full of paintings by European Old Masters. Woo!

Inside the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
At the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Looking at a painting on a computer screen is not the same as being up close. You get such as sense of depth, you can see the techniques, the brush strokes, and the layers of paint and glaze. Even the frame has a history and a story.

An Old Master painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Portrait of a young woman by a Master of the 1540s. Oil on oak panel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my art process. If you want to see more, I often post art in progress on Instagram and Facebook stories. Find me @oldmountainart and say hello!

Keep on shining bright,



  1. cheese grater in the cloth world = sandpaper or a grooved object in the paper world…along with coffee/tea dyeing. I’m becoming quite a secretive changer here! This morning it was releasing some fabric from tea+dash of coffee stew and finding that all the glaring white spots had gone…looks aged

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