Why We Paint

I suppose to many, the question of why we paint may seem rather obvious; people paint to create a product – whether through personal pleasure or for commercial exposure. But if you were to ask myself and many other artists this very same question, I assure you the answer would be a much more complex one because, in all honesty, there is so much more to the act of putting paintbrush to canvass.

They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and that is the main reason, above all other reasons, that I myself paint. If I was the theatrical kind, I would say I need to paint to live – but this may be taken to mean financially, which is not quite what I’m talking about! Okay, having opened a studio, I do indeed need to make a living from my work; but quite simply I need to paint to feel complete as a human being…

Just as a writer puts their words to paper to express their inner most thoughts, as an artist, I put my paintbrush to the canvass to capture the very essence of what I want to say. Ultimately, we paint because of the mere cathartic experience it provides us with as creative people. We are all shaped by our immediate environment and our life experiences, and it is this which I personally bring to the canvass each time – sometimes without even thinking about it!

Expanding as A Person Through Painting

When people visit my studio, I’m always asked about the selection of painted canvass frames that reside in the corner of the room. Truth be told, I also have a similar box in storage of paintings that I have accumulated over the years – many which have never been seen by anyone else. Every so often, particularly when I’m in a reminiscing mood, I make myself a coffee and sit on the floor of my home surrounded by these paintings. I view each one in turn as though it were an old photograph in an album!

Every canvass board and every piece of work tells a story; every picture is therefore a part of my history – a piece of me. I look at my paintings and I’m immediately transported back to that day I applied brush to canvass to create that specific piece of art work. I recall the need to paint and instantly all the memories and visions come flooding back.

On the rare occasion, I will look at the techniques of each piece and compare it with my more recent paintings, for purely personal achievement reasons, but mostly this is just me in front of my creative work remembering why I love painting so much, whilst relishing in the happiness each time I see a painting of my own hand.

A Valuable Lesson We Could All Learn

I often emphasize to all my students the need to bear in mind and refer occasionally to the main reason why we wanted to paint in the first place. This is especially a crucial piece of advice if, like me, you find yourself taking up art as a profitable career option.

When you begin to sell your art work, it is inevitable that you will at some point encounter the need to work to deadlines, build up your portfolio and develop your reputation as a professional artist. However, it is during this time that you may come to feel as though you are painting for the sheer sake of hitting a target or completing a piece to somebody else’s specifications. Whilst this is how we as paid artists survive, it cannot be our main reason for picking up that paint brush because it runs the risk of stifling our creativity.

In its own unique way, art is a form of therapy. Some people write to express themselves, others will act, some may sing. For the artist who picks up a brush and paints on a canvass, this is the most peaceful act of expression they will experience. Ultimately, by doing so, we also create something that will always be there to remind us of our journey – meaning a part of us will live on forever, just as the canvass board itself does…