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.
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.
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!).
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.