No Pretty Pictures?
As a visual artist, I have been given the gift of a voice. Many people see and interact with the images that I create. In this technology saturated world, my images reach far more people than I will ever know. And so, I have a responsibility to make my voice count for the greater good. It has often been suggested to me, by well-meaning friends and family; that if I would only paint “happy” pictures (local landscapes and animals), I would be rich! While happy pictures have their place, perhaps over ones sofa; “pretty” simply isn’t, and shouldn’t be, all there is to art. It certainly isn’t all there is to life. I believe in the importance of being authentic to oneself and others in both life and art. I paint what I see and feel happening within and around me. Sometimes, there is happiness, but often there is not. I do not believe that shrinking away from difficult ideas and ugly situations will make me a happier person or a better artist. It would rather, stunt my personal and professional growth and provide an untrue image of what existence on this earth is about.
In the United States, the denial of negative aspects and experiences has become a way of being for too many, too often. Thinking and feeling are shunned whenever possible, creating an emotionally and spiritually ill society. Artists have the ability and responsibility to be the conscience of a society; to work against denial, to mirror truth as we see it. It’s only when we are aware of what we think and feel that we can make intelligent, informed decisions regarding our own and our collective lives. Ignorance is not preferable to knowledge.
Often, I feel that images come through me, rather than from me; a sort of infused knowledge, if you will. The best way for me to access ideas is to be still, alone and aware of the thoughts and images coming through… I have painted “pretty little pictures” from time to time (usually specifically for someone) only to be left feeling empty, and unfulfilled. If “pretty little pictures” are what inspire you then by all means, create them. But, if they are not, create the images that you know align with your true self and purpose; images that make your time creating them precious and reflect your authentic self. Others, that are capable, will see truth in them and greatness will be achieved. Authenticity never lies.