A friend and fellow artist commissioned me to make him a picture of anything I wanted. And I painted The Witching Hour. If you’re curious about the inspiration for the piece, I’ve shared my thoughts below. If you’re the type who would rather not know, then please read no further.
A creative work, at the beginning, is a fragile creature. One’s creative vision is easily bullied and overwhelmed by innocent everyday matters…laundry, groceries, the doorbell, etc…Especially during the early stages of a work, when it’s loose and unformed, one must batten down the hatches against innocent distractions. There will always be laundry, but not always your idea. It may slip away into the recess of your mind, and lie dormant for thirty years or even disappear altogether, only to be recognized and seen again in someone else’s work, someone who protected and served the idea.
The idea may come to us at night, at the bus stop, when our hands are full, when we are in the throes of creating a different work; we must pause and make note of it or it will flounder without the structure of our attention.
In The Witching Hour, our character, though disheveled and tired, is doing the protective work. He’s guarding the bright light of a fresh idea, a firefly, from the innocent everyday disturbances, a cat. Perhaps he’s heading towards an open window to inspect the idea in the moonlight, or perhaps he’s determined to grant it freedom, which in our metaphor, is its creation.
The title, The Witching Hour, comes from a favorite childhood book of mine, The BFG, by Roald Dahl.
“The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.”
This excerpt surfaced, because the main character, Sophie, was awake to notice this hidden hour. When everyone else was sleeping, she was paying attention and therefore open to a different vision and rather than attend to the reasonable and innocent necessity of sleep, she discovered a beautiful new world.