Emotion & Art

art struggles

In the interest of "work smarter, not harder" & "done is better than perfect" in 2023, I'm resurrecting some blog posts I started months (or even years) ago and posting them in whatever state they're in. 


So many artists have long and involved stories about what motivates them to create their art. What emotions or experiences they're trying to work through; what messages they're trying to convey.

I feel like a total poseur when I encounter these stories, because my art isn't fueled by these things. My process is about discovery, experimentation, and exploration. It's about wonder and surprise. I often go into a painting session with no idea of what I'm going to create. I pick some colors and decide to see what come out.

I'm rarely trying to create a painting that evokes a specific emotion either. My best paintings evoke something when they're done, but I usually not aware of what it will be until I'm done. 

In fact, it's hard for me to talk about emotions in relation to my art. Emotions are hard for me, period. I am not comfortable with them in general and consider myself a brain trapped in a body. I prize rational thinking and calm, reasoned decisions.

Nevertheless, I recognize how much emotion is attached to art, both by artists who create and those who view and experience the work. Sometimes we can't put into words what we like or don't like about a piece. Sometimes it's a gut feeling, an instinct. And I don't think we can or should fight that.

But it does make it hard for me to talk about my art in anything besides technical terms. It's easy for me to go into oodles of detail about my process, to opine at length on how I feel about the technical tools of the trade (paper, paint brands, etc). It's hard for me to find meaning in my work to live up to the descriptions I see online. (And tbh, a not-insignificant part of me is a little cynic who thinks these people are bullshitting us all, and trying to make themselves seem weighty and important when they're really just talking out of their asses.)

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