Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why I am an Artist/Painter

I was asked the question, why I am painter. This question is a very important one for me to answer and I think in many ways is an ongoing one, in that, I am often asking myself what my art means to me and by times I have had for brief fleeting moments, thought about the reason I would even want to be an artist however I do not support the notion, that there are very negative consequences of choosing a field that may result in pending poverty, or madness. Along with this notion I would include, the myriad of myths and preconceived ideas about artists generally. In the book, The Artist's Way , by Julie Cameron she lists a compendium of these myths. This book was life changing for me, helping me to rediscovery and recover my creative self.

The question I hear posed repeatedly, "what are you going to do when you graduate", or "what will A Bachelor of Fine Art, is that what it's called, get you?". My classmate and I were discussing this notion the other day. I concluded the reason for this query from others perhaps is, because many do not understand how a Fine Art degree can possible translate into anything really viable, other than endless hours of painting in a garret, being a tortured soul, and living from hand to mouth.

That said, I come back to the question of why I am an artist. I believe we are all born creative, some of us become artists, others not, but we all have this innate creative impulse, that is either fostered or not. Fortunately for me, my creativity was greatly valued and I was nurtured as a child growing up in a creative family. Within the school system, in Ontario where art and music was a significant part of the curriculum, played a very valuable role in my decision to be an artist. Academically I was not a good student and did not feel comfortable in a stream lined educational system. This situation became more problematic for me when my family moved back to Nova Scotia in my early teens.
Growing up art for me was an escape and a comfort being in difficult family circumstances. If I couldn't seem to excel in anything academically, I could always express myself creatively and this was supported by my family.

Family, and the educational system both played a major role in my draw toward creative interests and pursuits. Once I became older I was able to find great rewards and satisfaction in my life and work as a Youth Care Worker and being an artist became a life style choice and a way of thinking that was fulfilling and gratifying. I could help young people the way I was helped. Being an artist is more than a vocation, where once being a Youth Care Worker was my vocation, being an artist is all about learning and living life in a holistic manner. Life and art are not separate entities. They both inform one another and as an artist I intend and hope to make the world a better place in encouraging others to follow a creative lifestyle regardless weather they themselves decide to be artists.
I am primarily a painter. I am not sure if I can verbalize exactly why but I have come to learn that painting tells me about myself in a variety of ways. In addition, I feel the strong desire to communicate through painting, though I use other medium, painting for me is the one I feel most connected to. It is a very sensual, physical, and tactile experience. There is a challenge in approaching the blank canvas going through the painting process and then having the satisfaction of work completed. There is a freedom I feel through the discipline of being a painter. It just feels really good for me. As an artist I have learned to be honest, open minded and willing through the creative process.


Chad Wooters said...

The issues you raise are indeed difficult to verbalize. The question to ask yourself as a painter is this...what can a painting express that cannot be expressed through any other creative medium.

As for the people who ask what you will do with your BFA, you could ask them a simple question...how would you discribe yourself to a total stranger without mentioning your career?

Chad Wooters said...

You don't need an advanced degree to get a job. Getting an education is about more that vocational training. The disciple, knowledge and exposure to varied and rigorous thinking enriches life.

Betsy Grant said...

The world would be a sad, cold place without artists if you ask me. Artists feed a spiritual hunger in others, who for one reason or another haven't had the opportunity to experience that creative part of themselves so directly.

Unknown said...

Good point Chad. I'll have to think further on this one, re " what a painting can express that cannot be expressed through any other creative medium."

I believe we are oriented as a society that qualifies and measures identity by what we do, or perhaps don't do. Artists do not provide a seemingly tangible service, and is not considered a neccessity by many, in the way like needing a mechanic to fix our car, plow out our drive way etc. Resulting in work not being valued and so remains innocuous and seemingly lacking any pragmatic purpose.

Unknown said...

YES Betsy the world would be would be a horrible place to live. If I could control time and space I'd strip the world of art and artist for a period of time, then maybe our fellow humans would have insight that would change the world. But alas I am only a mere mortal trying to do my creative part and I thank my fellow artists and creatives for doing theirs. Knowing this makes me hopeful for the future.

Unknown said...

I agree Chad. Some of my friends/artists who have no formal training are wonderful and even better artists than some folks who have degrees up the ying yang. My mother would have called them educated fools, that can be found in all academia. Having a thirst for knowledge and a passion for what you do, this is crux of what is paramount to me as an artist our whatever your field and/or vocation.