Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why Do I Paint?

The question most commonly asked of an artist is probably, “How long does it take to create a painting?” A fellow artist told me the answer she likes to give is, “Two hours. And twenty years.”

Another common but much more difficult question is, “Why do you paint?” I’ve been struggling a bit lately to put that answer into words suitable for a biography or artist’s statement. To tell the truth, art for me is a selfish thing – or perhaps self-centered is a better description. I paint because something catches my eye. I see a line or a color or a shadow that I find pleasing and want to put to paper or canvas. It’s really all about what appeals to me. If it also appeals to someone else, that’s just a bonus. I think a lot of artists work this way. After all, if you didn’t like your own work, why even bother?

But just this week I saw that art can be so much more than just a line or a shadow or a splash of color. A friend of mine recently took a photo that caught my eye, and I knew I had to paint it. The thought was in the back of my mind that she would like it as well, but mostly it was about me. With her permission I based a pastel off of her photo, and it turned out quite well. I was happy with it and when I emailed her the image, so was she.

Then the unexpected happened when she finally saw the original. The subject matter was very special to her, and the fact that I thought of her when I painted it made it even more special. It brought tears to her eyes in fact. It was a wonderful reminder that art isn’t just a self-centered pursuit but something that should be shared and that like music, the world is a better place for having art in it. Art may not be “necessary” for life, but I think it makes life better, and I’m glad to be a small part of that.

1 comment:

  1. You are right art should be shared.

    My answer to why do I paint/draw is because I have to, it's who I am - my soul cries when I don't.