What compels us to paint?

Given the challenges that we face as full-time artists, I have been reflecting on what it means to me to sell my work, what compels me to do this.

I think one part of the human condition is to seek some form of validation, being judged and accepted is an important aspect of how we coexist. So the positive reactions of viewers at Pittenweem Arts Festival, together with building followers through galleries, has certainly given me the confidence that I am producing work which is inspiring to others. 

My work is not for everyone, and I am fine with that, so this human desire for validation doesn’t drive me to seek to please everyone!

And I think that’s a massive part of what being an artist means to me. It’s someone else stepping into my world, being moved, uplifted or provoked by the experience and taking that away with them. Sharing art makes us more human, more connected to one another, no matter what the nature of the reaction is.

As Henry Ward Beecher wrote many years ago: “Every artist dips his brush into his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

The act of painting makes us more vulnerable, revealing our humanity.

Nature’s web

Painting is an emotional outlet for me and the physical practice can be meditative.  I often work on wood, finding joy in the physical process of painting, sanding back paint and building layers. The viewer also gets a very immediate sense of the marks I’ve made and can be as close to the painting as I was in its making without the barrier of glass.

It is certainly something that I enjoy as a viewer. My own home is full of original artworks. They add a real energy to each room and I feel uplifted and somehow reconnected whenever I look at them. 

Each time I look at these paintings, it’s that dance between the considered marks and the happy accidents that intrigues me and keeps me coming back.


What does art mean to you?

What do you feel art brings to you, perhaps especially in this coronavirus crisis?  I would love to hear your thoughts! Is it important for you to feel a connection with the artist or do you react simply to the image presented? Please comment below.

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