Friday, February 13, 2009


I find painting and the act of making art exasperating.
It is such a lonely path and yet so totally fulfilling.
Shouldn’t all great art just happen and be a process of great joy and ease?

Until just recently these contradictory feelings have haunted my artist soul. My burdens were eased with the discovery of a catalog of art quotes, . I quickly went to the subject of frustration and found the writings of such noted masters as Monet and Piscassro like scripture before me.

The ideas expressed in these writings confirm that I am not alone in my frustration and hardship. Even the great and honored Michelangelo stated that his life might have been so much easier if he had taken a simpler path early in life. 

“Painting and sculpture, labour and good faith, have been my ruin and I continually go from bad to worse. Better it would have been for me if I had set myself to making matches in my youth. I should not be in such distress of mind.” (Buonarroti Michelangelo) 

There have been times that I have also secretly wished that this burden to create and express had not been laid on my heart. Often another will express how they wish that they had my talent and that they would give anything to be able to paint as I do. “Ha, I think to myself, you think this is all fun? It is agony!” Painting is a process of great problem solving. I am always struggling to express the idea in my head and heart, pushing into uncharted territory, not being able to step back and relax until all of the problems I have created are solved. I never had a special interest in math or science in school. In fact I hated them. I just wanted to draw and paint. Now, as I stand in front of a blank canvas I often rethink my choices. At least in math and science there are right and wrong answers along with certain commonly known formulas to achieve the solution. 

That is not the way in art. The artist must express his own ideas and forge his own path to resolution. The fact that there is no one right solution makes the path even more challenging, and mentally tasking. Even with all of the exasperation I just expressed, there is another side that is ultimately prevails in the heart of the dedicated artist. The deep need to create, to express unspoken thoughts, to release oneself from the daily reality of life and delve into a deeper reality almost on a spiritual level with ones ideas and chosen materials of expression. I live to create and I create to live. 

Although the process can be exasperating it can also be a Zen like experience, as if I am being used by some greater force as a means of expression and I am letting the idea into a new reality through my act of creation. When a painting flows like this it is an awesome magical experience. I had expected all my work to flow gracefully from my heart to the canvas, but alas it doesn’t and most paintings are struggles. 

After discovering the writings of other artists whose work I admire, and hearing the same thoughts of frustration and exasperation as well as the constant deep need for creation and expression, I felt great comfort. I felt a new closeness to those who walked this walk many years before me. I am not alone, this is they way it is supposed to be – not easy. Last week I had the joy of sharing my art and process with a new acquaintance. He had admired my work from afar for sometime. I also shared a bit about my trials and doubts. He was quick to admonish those thoughts in my head. “You have to paint! What a shame if a talent like this was wasted!” Those are the same thoughts I had after finding the quotes of Monet and Pissarro. Their persistence and determination has now become part of my inspiration. Alas, I can move on.