Someone asked me the other day the BIG question–
Why do You paint?
She was looking at my artist business card and said, “Come on… most artists only make money after they are dead anyway”. But my answer was, “Honestly, It’s not about the money.” Sure, I would like to have my passion make me money but that is not why I am compelled to paint.
Her next question, ” Do you wanna be famous or something?”
“No”, I replied, ” Of course that would be fun but NOPE, that’s not what it’s about.”
How do you explain something that just comes naturally, a part of you that wants to be creative, expressive, and, well, darn it it’s fun and it’s part of me. It’s like asking a monkey why they swing from trees by their tails when their arms work just fine. I have doodled since I could hold a crayon, and painted since I was a kid. Ask my 82 year old mom- she is still finding my “art” around her house.
My inquisitor’s final parting shot was, ” I could never SELL any of my creations, it would make me feel cheap.” Oh, the momentary deflation and sting I felt as she sauntered away from me…….thud and smack……
I’m afraid my questioner didn’t quite get the answers she expected out of me. I got the distinct feeling she thought I was weird and somehow beneath her. Well, guess what? I am happy to be that “Weird Artist”. I’d rather be weird and loving what I do, than normal and hating my job.
When my kids were little, I painted murals on their play house walls, and bunk beds, and murals on their bedroom walls. I know some people thought I was weird…
Last year was a tough one on my family losing my brother-in-law unexpectedly and seeing my sister and her kids left with a giant hole. I also had a brother and another brother-in-law have heart attacks. They are happily on the mend and still with us. Reality hits you and you realize you want to spend your own time well because you don’t want to live life with regrets. When my son says mom, I want to paint with you, I hand over a canvas for him to try out. This little gecko turned out great for his first attempt.
And a few months later when he wants you to custom paint his surfboard deck for him— well, I just went for it and ” fired it in” as old Bill Alexander used to say on his painting show on PBS.
I want to look back one day with satisfaction that I stuck my neck out and was bold and shared my paintings with the world. It doesn’t matter what others say about my work, or my motivations. When I sell a painting or give a painting to someone its feels like I am parting with something precious and loved. If I don’t love a painting it doesn’t leave my hands. So in a sense, it is sending my love out to others and sharing part of me – that fulfills me and spurs me onward. That sounds like a better legacy than hiding away my works for someone to discover in a closet so many years after I am gone.
I once told a family friend that it feels like I’m giving up a little part of me, a child in a sense, when I give away a painting that I poured my heart and soul into. She got it…and she lovingly gave me a digital frame filled pre-loaded with photos of my sold paintings so I could always have them by me. I like inspiring others and encouraging them to follow their dreams. One of my best friends from school days has shared my work with her daughter and her little Anna shares her work with me. I see another artist budding don’t you? Stay with it Anna dear! By the way Miss Anna says these are for sale 🙂
You can’t put a price on living your life freely and enjoying every act of creation on the canvas. Plus, I have seen the ripple effects. I recently painted a butterfly because I have seen so many over the past year since dear Tom died. It always felt like he was connecting with me somehow as they would suddenly appear or flutter by me. A women cried when she saw this painting of mine in person, she immediately connected to it and told me she had to have it. You see her husband had just died of cancer and her young daughter says that Daddy visits them now as a butterfly.
Then there was the painting I made for my mom for her 80th birthday. I tried to capture the lake house she lived in as a newlywed- a place I had never seen. Her smile told me that I was able to paint it just right.
I am an artist and I live and breathe in my works – they will be the timeless part of me just as my children are my husband’s and my legacy into the future. Mahalo for reading my thoughts! ~Andy