The Why behind the Art
This is a massive question that I have been mulling over for some time. Why do I paint? What purpose does it serve?
When I first addressed this question I simply said, "because I love it". But that's not really enough. I do love it. When I paint I can lose myself for hours. It gives me headspace. Time to just be in the creative zone. However there is more to it. It can often depend on what I am painting and why. For example, if I am painting a commission that is a different "why" than if I am painting just for fun. Commissions are a commercial aspect to my art business. They have to meet the requirements of the customer. I have to be able to translate the picture into the artwork they are paying for.
When I am painting for myself or when creating a new body of work, the why is more subtle. Yes, I enjoy it. But why do I paint the way I paint and why do I paint what I paint? This has taken me a while to figure out. I have been learning from the fantastic Michelle Lloyd inside the United Art Space Hub. This creative space is full of inspirational artists at all stages of their career. I've learned to allow my why to develop and grow as I focus on my art. The seed was planted last year when Michelle asked "Why?" I've come back to it again and again. It is like peeling the layers off an onion. A bit like spiritual growth and something I say to my clients and students over at Rocks n Rituals, my other business baby.
To try and discover my why, I needed to look at my art. What was the common theme if any and would that maybe shed light on why. The thread that seems to pull all my artwork together is the natural world. I started off painting landscapes in oils. Then I began to play with acrylics and again focused on natural subjects like flowers and trees. Lately I've discovered watercolour and put together a collection of animals and birds. But no matter the medium, the subject is always natural. Why?
I adore being out in nature. For me, it makes me feel alive and connected to source energy. I love watching the birds play in the garden and I am fascinated with light and reflections. There is something so magical about how light reflects off water. How it comes through the tree tops and dances on the ground below. The sparkles of light that could maybe be fairy elementals playing in the trees. It is all just magical and wondrous. Nature is unhurried yet everything gets done. A lesson we could all learn!
When I paint a natural scene I feel like I am there. I immerse myself in it. In the reflections in the water. The light dancing through the trees captures my imagination. Whimsical thoughts pass through my mind. I can get lost in the natural world all while painting in my studio.
I did experiment with some abstract art and it was fun. It's important to try new things and stretch yourself. However the pure abstract pieces didn't really capture my imagination. I tried loosening up my technique a little with palette knife partially abstract styles and this worked. In particular when I again focused on the natural world. So the more I looked at my work and sat with it, the more I understood my why.
I paint because I enjoy being immersed in the subject matter - the natural world. I find it magical and joyous. The simple act of painting a simple little mushroom can bring such joy to me. We all need more joy in our lives, right? So for me, if my art can make someone smile. Or make someone feel calm and relaxed as they look upon a landscape I've created then my job is done. Art can evoke all sorts of emotions. I'd like to think my art evokes peace, calm and joy - maybe a little bit of curiosity and wonder too.
I have no doubt that my why will continue to evolve as I grow as an artist. For now though, I hope this helps you understand why I do what I do.