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Is it just about recreating a pretty picture?
Have you ever thought about or analyzed the motivation or reason(s) behind WHY you paint what you paint? Is it just God given talent, an ability to draw, doodle or recreate on paper or canvas something that inspired you, some picturesque scene that you wanted to capture or attempt to copy.
I’m really quite intrigued by the motivation behind what inspires one to draw and paint that which they do!
When I try to recall my own journey down a lengthy artistic road, I remember even before I was ten years old wanting to be a cowboy and having some ability to sketch that out on paper, I began by drawing cowboys and indians on horses. I was intrigued and drawn to cars and airplanes and they started showing up in my numerous scribbles. (As good fortune would have it, I was making a living and good money drawing and painting cars and airplanes forty plus years later.) My parents did not discourage me from attempting to do pencil drawings - with shading - of my brothers and sisters and I suspect the success of achieving some likeness met with sufficient approval to keep one encouraged and going. I even convinced my high school history teacher to let me do pencil sketches of famous Canadians in lieu of written essays on that subject.
Getting positive feedback, approval and recognition for one’s efforts from others seems to me the strongest outside motivation to continue. And that is doubly effective when someone is willing to pay or give you money in exchange for those efforts. And so while the inspiration and creation starts from within, it can be strongly fortified and encouraged from without by others.
When I think about it, most of my freelance illustration career was devoted to rising to the challenge of recreating or representing someone else’s expectations. If I could satisfy my own vision of the project or commission however, there was a good chance, the client would be happy and I would get paid.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO PAINT... and WHAT YOU PAINT?
Is it just a natural God given germ in your genes?
Is it an inherited ability to draw and paint… that you want to get more proficient at?
Is it because your aunt thinks you’re pretty good - so should pursue a career as an artist.
Is it just a love of visual art?
Is it professional ambition?
Is it the romantic idea of becoming an artist?
Is it a natural scene or landscape that you wish to capture on paper or canvas?
Is it a desire to recreate that one in a hundred photograph you took?
Is it your loved ones, wife, children or pets?
Is it another artist’s work that you would like to emulate?
Is it the marketplace?
Is it just the idea of ‘Plein Air’?
Is it money?
Is it Fame?
Is it the idea … or deadline of having an exhibit?
Is it a themed contest or show you would like to enter?
Is it the words of an art market critic, writer or expert?
Is it other people’s (the public’s) comments about your work?
Is it a gallery director or museum curator’s comments about your work?
Is it a feeling, idea or concept that you wish to express?
Is it current events, politics or religion?
Is it a personal philosophy that you would like to express?
Is it music?
Is it the paint? - it’s colour or texture?
Is your inspiration coming from a cerebral or emotional source?
Is it coming from the right side of your brain or the left?
Is it the history of art?
'Painting By The Numbers - I don't have to stay inside the lines anymore'
I can honestly say that all of the above list has influenced me to paint what I paint and roughly in that relative order. Certainly, since moving from a career as a freelance illustrator and commissioned artist to one of simply doing my own personal art, the motivation has naturally changed and so therefore the work output. I know it’s resulted in personal growth as an artist. And that may be the most important achievement in the whole exercise.
My most recent motivation was presented to me as the result of a gallery submission to exhibit. The director who rejected my work challenged me to come back in a couple of years with something that was going to change the history of painting. Pretty tall and perhaps ridiculously impossible order, and funnily I actually thought that I was already making some relatively unique work. Apparently it was not so or at least not sufficiently enough to be obvious… but it does get one (me) to thinking. How does one make a new mark on painting in a way that has never been done before? It’s obvious that everyone’s original art is unique and one of a kind by virtue of the fact it was done by an individual. But is it sufficiently different to signify it’s own new distinct impression on the history of painting from a broader perspective?
What is motivating you to paint what you paint?
How many of the questions above can you tick off?
Have those reasons and inspirations changed over time?