what do you love?

In my last blog post, I focused on the importance of figuring out what we do well as painters. Another important part of the equation, it seems to me, is what do you love? Painting is about what you love to look at and what kind of art you want to create. As much as I believe that some of it is decided for us, I believe that intent also plays a big part.

flowers bring me joy. “Ladies in milk glass,” 6×8″

a forever painting

A favorite teacher of mine says that you need to paint the painting that you would want to look at forever. That’s a pretty high aim, and I could easily be paralyzed by such a goal. But it’s what keeps me painting, because I have not yet painted that painting. This goal also helps me take risks and push myself to paint better.

follow your joy

A student of mine once said she didn’t know what she loved to paint. I can relate. As great as social media can be for sharing, it also inundates us with images. I see so much art that inspires but that also brings me down as I fear I don’t measure up. It also causes me to think I should paint this or that thing that someone else painted so well. Or that I shouldn’t paint what I love because so many others are actively painting that particular motif beautifully.

what falls away. This is an oil painting of flowers in a white vase.

This leads me to flowers. I love flowers. They’re little miracles-microcosms of life that embody every human emotion. And, they’re just heart-stopping in their beautiful colors and graceful forms. They are alive and lively and they move. I could go on and on about how much I love flowers. And yet, sometimes I think that I should stop painting them. I once mentioned that on Facebook and so many of you reminded me not to (thank you!).

oil painting of roses in white milk glass compote dish.
Two personal favorites.

This thought comes from from pure insecurity and worry about what other people will think. They will compare me to the expert flower-painters and find me lacking. They will write me off as cliche. They will think my work is superficial and only about pretty things… see where I’m going with this? It could be a never-ending source of discouragement, if I let it.

love is all you need?

Well, not quite. But I think it’s a pretty good place to start. I believe a good “formula” is love + focus + skill + risk, but more on that later. There needs to be some distance from love because it’s easy to get too attached too early in a painting, or to hold on to part of a painting because you love it too much. But that’s a different issue all together.

Ultimately, though, I believe you need to paint for yourself. Paint what you want to see, not what anyone else wants you to paint. What this means to me is that I strive to honor my own preferences and standards above everyone else’s. Trust me- it’s not always fun because I set a pretty high standard for myself. If I can stand to look at it, it’s going in the right direction.

6 thoughts on “what do you love?

  1. This idea is so well expressed and I agree. There has to be some passion involved from the artist. Commissions and working with gallery owners and/ or decorators can be dibilitating. Nothing worse than painting for some one else.

    1. Thank you, Nancy. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. I know that passion isn’t everything, but I believe it’s a critical piece of the equation. I think it’s what separates evocative art from that which is technically sound but lacks feeling.

  2. Hi Tracy,
    I have recently been introduced to your work by Steve Kennedy in Fort Washington. I love the colors you select and the style that demonstrates your free spirit. I was thinking of signing up for your Princeton workshop in March. Several of my classmates in Fort Washington expressed in interest as well and Steve suggested asking if you would give a workshop closer to our area for at least the several fellow painters and myself from his class. If not I would like to sign up for the March workshop myself. I love the ethereal nature of your work. Sincerely, Sue

    1. Hi Sue,
      What a kind note, thank you. Steve is a great painter and how nice that he introduced you to my work. I’d be happy to teach a workshop closer to your area if I could find a space. I’ll send you an email and we can talk about it.
      Kindly, Tracy

  3. Enjoyed seeing your work and reading your thoughts on painting. Your work conveys a poetic quality in the harmony of color and values. Love the contrast between the scraping underneath and the softness of opaque passages where light falls on the subject.

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