Inspired by: Mr. Turner


Yay! It’s the 10th of the first month of a brand new year and of course Riikka and I are back with a new Inspired by!

Inspired by is a self-imposed monthly challenge Riikka and I started together 2,5 years ago. We challenge each other each month to create something with a particular theme or thing in mind. This theme or thing can be anything: a film, an object, a painting, an artist, a city… and for this Inspired by we thought it would be cool to add another film to our series.

There were two recent films that we thought would be suitable and of the two, Mr. Turner was still playing in theatres in both Finland and the Netherlands. So Mr. Turner it was!

I had no idea what I was in for… I had convinced Harold to come with me to the cinema on a Sunday afternoon. I warned him that it was going to be a biographical film about the painter J.M.W. Turner and that he might not like the film. He warned me that he was feeling tired and there was a possibility he would fall asleep during the viewing…

Little did we know that the film would captivate both of us. We left the cinema all dazed and amazed. Harold said that he was blown away by the story and the performance of the actors, especially Timothy Spall. Who’d have thought!

So, yes: the film is brilliant and you should definitely go and see it if you get a chance!

But I had taken on the task of creating ‘something’ with this epic film in mind… and that wasn’t an easy task!

I took just a few notes during the break of the film: contemporary painters that were mentioned in the film (in order to Google them later), paint colours, costumes, the sea(side) and I wrote down: sketchbook.

Then I forgot about the notes and that evening I started a Pinterest board about what I had seen in the film. I stumbled upon the website of the Tate gallery and I got lost in the Turner sketchbook archives

I’m not a sketcher. I wish I was and I do attempt to keep sketchbooks every now and then. One of those attempts was last October when everyone on Instagram was doing Inktober sketches. I did about five daily sketches and then life got in the way and I forgot about it…

Marsha Valk Sketchbook

I am a note taker though. I have stacks of note books to prove it. I have some visuals scribbled among the notes, but nothing major. Leafing through some of the note books it occurred to me that I seemed to do more scribbling up until about 5 years ago.

Marsha Valk Notebooks

So what had changed?

The answer came to me when I visited a local museum. I found a book with art work by Francis Alÿs in the museum shop. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since I saw some of it in the Irish Museum of Modern Art. I wasn’t allowed to take photos there and I remember walking through the buildings with a note pad, jotting everything down that I wanted to remember.

When I got home, those notes helped me to create this scrapbook layout:


Hmmm. I only seem to go to my note books when I can’t photograph… Back in 2008 I still needed a camera to take photos, but nowadays I have my iPhone with me at all times. It’s easy to take a photographic note of something, isn’t it? Easier than looking for a pen and jotting it down… Definitely easier than looking for a pen and sketching it!

William Turner didn’t have a camera nor a phone. He had his sketchbooks to take notes. If he wanted to remember a view or a scene, he had to take note of it in his sketchbooks. He was using his sketchbooks just like I use my iPhone.

It got me thinking I could do something with my iPhone photos. You know: the ones that nobody ever sees. The ones that are out of focus and badly lit because I don’t really care what they look like as long as I can remember what I saw…

These are the ones I took whilst at the local museum:


See: not my usual stunning photography ;-). But… These photographic notes can help me make something!

You can tell from the photographs that I especially loved the oil paint collages on wood by Philip Aguirre y Otegui. They were only about 15 x 20 cm, colourful and fun. They made me smile when I turned the corner and saw them all in a row.

Truly inspiring and I decided to try and create something along those lines:

MarshaValk_InspiredBy_MrTurner1Marsha Valk | Inspired by: Mr TurnerMarsha Valk | Inspired by

Conclusion: Mr. Turner has given me a lot to think about! And although it seems that in the end I was more inspired by Mr. Aguirre y Otegui than Mr. Turner, I did try to incorporate some Mr. Turner elements in my little collage pieces. It was really freeing to work on three small substrates at once. I can see why Aguirre y Otegui made a whole series!


Back to Mr. Turner: I’m once again glad I got to learn more about the artist behind the paintings. And I still wish I could keep a sketchbook like that. I think I might try that again this year.

Now, I’ve kept you far too long! Let’s see what Riikka has created!

One thought on “Inspired by: Mr. Turner

  1. Oh wow! These are just so stunning! Love the bright colors, the textures and the patterns! And I love how your mind works, too! I adore what you have done and your words about the notebooks are such a revelation! I’ve been pondering why my art journal isn’t in as much used as I would like to be, but now reading this I may have an answer – I use all other methods to do the same thing.

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