People frequently ask me why I create particular paintings. It’s not easy to explain. There are reasons, within reasons, within reasons. Each piece has its own individual Why, but there is also a Why for the whole body of work. Beyond both of those is the over-arching Why of my Purpose. I think this question may be a stumbling point for many artists. People ask an artist, “Why?” and are often rewarded with an unsatisfactory blank stare. It’s not that we don’t know, but that words (speaking as a visual artist) are inadequate. It’s something we feel–a powerful emotion that is expressed by the painting (or other artwork) itself. The work is the answer, so the question catches us off-guard.
Artists write Artist Statements filled with flowery words to resolve the inadequacy of language, which often results in making the viewer feel inadequate. I believe this is partly why so many people feel intimidated by art. Their knee-jerk response is, “I don’t understand art.” Of course they don’t! Just as we can’t expect that everyone we meet will speak or read English, we can’t expect that everyone will understand our inner language. And even if they could, there is often a backstory that the viewer couldn’t possibly know that enhances the meaning of the work. All this is to say that we artists owe it to our viewers to be able to answer the question, but please forgive us if we stumble along the way.
This week I’m going to try to explain my Purpose.
I believe my Purpose in life is to inspire and instill hope in others by sharing my awe of God, life and nature through my art, whether that be paintings, mixed media work, photography, writing or even the way I live. I do truly find this whole experience utterly amazing. From the awareness of the cells rebuilding my spine after surgery to witnessing the golden glow of the sun through the morning fog. From seeing ancient sculpture and architecture in Turkey to listening to my cat purr. From watching a fisher cat climb trees in search of nests to plunder to a stranger putting his hand on my shoulder to welcome me into a new group. It’s all so achingly beautiful to me. There is a deep intention to every experience – a perpetuation of life or connection that works as a system individually and in the larger system as a whole. Each moment of existence is an intersection between these circles of systems that we get to participate in! And we decide our level of participation. Even in horrible situations we have the freedom within to choose how we will respond. Life has infinite potential. My Purpose is to make people aware of the exquisite wonder of Life and that they can choose how to experience it.
Have you felt this potential in your life? I’d love to hear how you experienced something that changed how you view or live your life. How that has it affected those around you? Please leave a comment below.
Next week I’ll explain the Why behind my animal paintings.
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