Ancestors Inspire Painting

A Horse Of A Different Color, 2017, by Debra Benditz. Oil on canvas, 48 x 60". Copyright © 2017 Debra Benditz. Used by permission of the artist. 

Painter Debra Benditz hadn’t painted for five months. “The more time went by the harder it was and the more disheartened and the worse I felt,” she said about her dry spell. 

Not knowing what else to do, she was home, cleaning out a closet “praying for answers” when she opened a family photo album and saw her grandmother AEola (spelled like that!) and great grandmother Jennie staring back at her. Long ago, she’d thought about painting these women but this project was not on her mind at the time.

Inspired by this personal history, the women’s clothing and the shadows in the images, Benditz knew immediately what to do. “I went to the studio and I’ve been painting voraciously ever since,” Benditz said. Her new series is called Cowgirls. 

We all have fallow times when it feels like nothing will come. What I appreciate about Benditz’s story is how she surrendered to her situation and let inspiration find her.

How can you let inspiration find you even in unlikely places, even in fallow times?

When asked what she would do if she found herself again unable to paint, Benditz said she would

• Reach out to friends
• Explore the art of her favorite artists
• Go out to breakfast with her sketchbook

I would add that sometimes there’s nothing to do but surrender. And in the surrendering and going about the mundane tasks of living, we find the way through. Benditz recently signed with a new gallery with her Cowgirls series.

Gigi Rosenberg is an author, artist coach and editor of Professional Artist. She wrote The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing (Watson-Guptill) and coaches artists to help them find funding, blast through creative blocks and launch vibrant marketing plans. To sign up for her smart, art-filled news, visit