Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why Do YOU Paint?

"Monarch Lake Morning"
Oil on Panel

Sorry for my downer of a post the other day y'all. I was obviously a little bit overwhelmed! We're all still sniffling and coughing here in the Peterson household, but it's snowing out today (I KNOW, it's June!), so Aspen and I have been having a nice day snuggling on the couch. There's just nothing better than a good excuse to be lazy sometimes...

Anyhow, I've been filling out a survey for the mentorship program I'm doing, and one of the questions that I keep passing over is:

"Why do you paint? (Think about the answer, do not take the first thing that comes to your mind. Keep asking "Why" to your answer, until you get to the root reason)."

When I read this question, a bunch of things come to mind immediately. It's my job. It pays the bills. I want to communicate what I see in the landscape to others. I love the challenge. I find satisfaction in the feeling of a job well done. I like the process of creating. I love that art is an ever-evolving pursuit. I love the "idea" of being an artist. I love to simplify what I see into something that works as a painting. I love to paint.

If I keep going deeper and asking why to all of these answers, I get down to the bare bones fact that I just love the process of putting brush to canvas, or pencil to paper, and I always have. When I was tiny, I loved to color. In school, art class was my favorite hour of the day. Even when I got busy with college and a grown-up career, I always kept up with drawing and painting to an extent, because I just loved the process of creating a two dimensional image.

I've tried a lot of different hobbies - running, hiking, swimming, singing, piano, dancing, triathlons, acting, scrapbooking... Nothing gives me anywhere near the feeling of satisfaction that I get from the process of painting. Painting is fullfilling to me emotionally AND physically - I think this is why I enjoy it so much more than anything else I've tried. I know this sounds sort of touchy-feely-new-agey and all, but my soul just feels right when I'm painting. When I paint, I get into a flow where I'm not thinking about much of anything other than the painting in front of me. It allows me to stop thinking about life and about me for a period of time, and just focus on doing. And that seems to be something I need to be right with myself.

So, I don't know that I have a one-sentence answer to the question "Why do you paint?", but this is as close as I've gotten.

I'd love to hear the opinions of other artists on this subject. Why do YOU paint?


  1. What a beautiful painting, I'm sure that it will find a new owner very quickly! Thanks for sharing your blue secret I will try it out in my next landscape.
    Your reasons why you paint are spot on for most artists I think, it is the inner joy, that somehow no other activity can give you. I just love that feeling!

  2. I particularly responded to your comment about "being in the flow" . That is exactly how I feel while photographing.
    I photograph for the same reasons that you paint.
    I think that all artists would show similar reasons.
    So, for all of us, in whatever medium...thank you for expressing it so well.

  3. Diana and Steve - I think you're both right, that we all probably paint for the same reason when you get down to it - we just like it!!! That just doesn't sound profound enough!

  4. I feel about the same. I need to paint. I love to paint. I am grumpy if I don't paint.
    I think that it is also the best way that I can communicate my feelings about light and color, nature, life, etc...

  5. Frank - yeah, I'm grumpy if I don't paint. Maybe I should have just said that was my final answer - it's so much more succinct than all of my rambling.