Why do artists paint?
This was the question posed to me by Tasmanian artist Edna Broad the other week. Before I had a chance to respond, she answered, “Because they don’t know when to stop!” There’s a lot of truth in that.
Why indeed do artists immerse themselves in their art for hours at a time and longer?
I meet many artists thanks to my roles as a curator, teacher, judge and radio commentator. Some of them ‘live and breathe’ their art, others are more secretive. One thing all dedicated artists have is passion, that ‘fire in the belly’, focus, belief and most importantly, motivation and discipline. Artist don’t retire, it’s just that their work gets fuzzier and more abstract with age!
My favourite Australian painter Lloyd Rees got better with age. His later work was full of mystery and intrigue. He didn’t have the physical control he no doubt would have liked, but he had decades of experience that taught him how to say so much with so little. Our country has been blessed by Lloyd Rees’ contribution to art.
I believe that artists are not made; they are born with an ability to express themselves (in this case) visually. Yes, they all need some form of training at some stage, or someone to ‘unlock’ their creative potential. There’s something inside that drives you, urges you to express yourself. Some artists are driven by anger, joy, pain; whatever drives you needs to be fed, nurtured, encouraged and challenged. Complacency in art is dangerous as is painting to a formula. Artists must grow; they must mature as one’s thinking matures with age and experience.
What you are trying to say is one thing, how you say it is another.