Painting my personal truth (another way of saying this is painting with authenticity) is the best way I know how to make work that is meaningful, sustainable, fresh, magnetic, beautiful and inspiring. So every once in a while, I like to check in with myself and ask the following 5 questions to help me make sure I am on the right track. The key here is to answer the questions. The only way to calibrate your creative compass is to take the time and do the mental work to answer these questions for yourself.
1. Who am I painting for?
Am I painting for an audience? Who is that audience? Is it my family? My friends? My art group? My partner? And if I am painting for them, what is it that I am trying to capture in order to please them? What does that painting look like? Would I know it, if I painted it? Sometimes, we are working so hard to achieve something, but we actually have no idea what that looks like! Identifying whom our audience is can be extremely insightful in helping us understand what our motivations are and how they influence our creative process. And if you answered: I am painting for myself. Then I ask you: Are you? Are you really? You’ll know if you answered truthfully if you know how to answer the next question.
2. What would I paint if no one were looking?
Take away the audience. What if there were no audience? Are you still painting for you? Oh I love this question! Again, this is about checking in with yourself and analyzing what or who is motivating the work that we do. If no one were looking – if I didn’t have to share this with anyone, if it was just for me – would I still be using the same colours? Would I be using as much or as little texture? Would I be painting bigger or smaller?
3. What would I paint if every painting I made were already sold?
I think this question is especially helpful for those of us that attach price tags to the work that we make. Picasso got to the point that he could scribble on a napkin and someone would want to buy it. What if everything I made already had a buyer, and it didn’t really matter what I created as long as it had my signature on it? What would I create then? Would it look the same as the work I am doing now? Why? Why not?
4. What would I paint to hang inside my own home?
This question really brings it home. Pun intended. What sorts of things do I want to surround myself with? What do they look like? How do they make me feel? Do I gravitate towards certain colours? Certain shapes? Certain textures? For those of you that feel like maybe your home is not conducive to this kind of work... what if you could start fresh and make everything in your space revolve around that painting. What would that painting look like?
5. What would I paint if this were the last painting I ever made?
This question gives me goose bumps! The truth is we are all going to die, so knowing this information, what do I want to create? What mark do I want to leave on the canvas to stay here after I’m gone? What is my artistic legacy? What informs this question for me, is the fact that I’ve moved around a lot. Take my latest experience on the Big Island of Hawaii for example. The evacuation order came suddenly, and I had no idea that the paintings that I created there, would be the last paintings that I would make there. When I look back and I ask myself, would I have painted those paintings knowing that the volcanic eruption was imminent? The answer is yes.
6. What would I paint if my art supplies and studio space were unlimited?
For a lot of us, the cost of our art supplies dictate how large we paint, how often we paint, and how much paint we use. But what if there were no price tags? Imagine you were being sponsored by the world’s greatest and largest art supply company and you had art supplies for the rest of your life at no cost. What would you paint? Would you paint differently? Why? Take the same approach to the studio space: Imagine the studio space of your dreams. What if your studio was spacious, light -filled and rent-free? Would you paint differently? How is your pocket book affecting your process? How are your attitudes regarding your creative space influencing the projects you choose? Keep in mind, having a limited art budget and a less than ideal studio space is not a bad thing! On the contrary, creating boundaries on our budget, time and space can be incredibly effective.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.