What’s Your Motivation?

I could ask you “What’s your poison?” because painting and art in general gets into your system and insidiously affects all you think and do. Motivation for most artists is so strong that at times nothing else matters, except perhaps a fire in the studio.

What’s my motivation?

Getting awards and selling a couple of pieces lately has prompted me to think a little more rationally and less emotionally about why I paint.

Emotion in the how is what we want folks. But, the wrong emotions taking over the why can lead you down many paths that won’t necessarily be good for your art or you.

(Getting motivated by doing collage sketches at the Lady Franklin Gallery!)

The “please buy my art” path will most likely be the undoing of some of the enjoyment in making your art. I’ve experienced this first hand and believe me, it’s soul destroying. I think I have partially let the need to sell go. I’d still like a sale here and there but that’s a nice byproduct of painting and exhibiting, not a major reason for doing it.

There’s also the “Why didn’t I/when will I win?” mindset. This whole scene is quite fickle. Wondering whether you might win an award is counter productive. It stops you making art in a relaxed way. You tend to adjust what you think or do to suit judging at the expense of your own preferences. And, funnily enough it can detract from the art you create.

(This (top left square) is a collage sketch where I’ve found three cropped sections that may be motivating prompts for future paintings.)

Judging awards is really down to the judges and is difficult to predict. Even if you have three judges, they are all going to have differing opinions about the work being judged. I know from experience that there are always other works as good as the winners, but for some reason, mostly unknown to the artists, a particular piece is chosen. Some years ago, a judge told me I won an award because I had collage in my graphite drawing!

As for my personal motivation, I could ramble on with some arty garb, but I just want to paint, learn and improve my art. For me, the need to be creative, to paint or draw, comes before the subject, medium and techniques. My art (process and product) is, first and foremost, for me! 

With that in mind, these two paintings are the newest additions to the catalogue of art I have available. They’re two works from a small series where I recall really relaxing into painting and, as they say, “just doing it”!

Curvy” 20cm wide x 20cm high – To find out more on Bluethumb click here
“Orbit – 20cm wide x 20cm high – To find out more on Bluethumb click here

With the listing of these two I’m up to date with my offerings of paintings for sale on Bluethumb.

It’s been a busy month of helping with and entering exhibitions. In theory, I should now be able to paint my heart out creating more art to share!

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Click here to find out about exhibitions I currently have work in.

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Playing Outside

seascape horizon in blue, black and white

Have you watched an artist painting or sketching en plein air or perhaps tried it yourself?

Playing with abandon, like a child…..just you, the paint, paper and brushes, all working together can be very invigorating.  Take it outside and you add another exciting element to the experience.

I love the way children are fascinated when they find you painting. They immediately become inspired to try it themselves ….. when they’ve finally asked all their questions!  Generally, there’s a supply of sketchbooks in our caravan to give away when we’re travelling.  I’ve also given kids the odd sketch or two because they are so enthusiastic.

I once sketched a young girl climbing some Northern Territory rocks and gave her the sketch.  Next thing we knew, her young brother was posing for me to sketch him too!  Naturally, I obliged. Subsequently, the family “parked their caravan” at our place while travelling in Tasmania. Making friends with art!

My motivation these days, when plein air painting or sketching, is not to go home with an image that visually represents a scene.  Rather, it’s about getting the feel for a place, the atmosphere, mood and the felt characteristics. 

What colours, textures, techniques, movements and marks could be used to express how the area makes me feel?  Are there ways to use tools, make marks and find effects to create a sense or feeling of place? …… Something that comes through and from me, my random choices, arm, hand and body movements?

I’m not asking myself these questions while working though. It’s more an overarching aim, to be achieved or happened upon by “just doing it”.

This can result in some rather messy images, as you can see above!  But, hopefully, within the mess, there is treasure! Something to be reinterpreted and to inspire new art or ideas.  There are often useful crops (small sections/images) within the sketches.  At the very least there will be some marks to reuse in the studio to help when attempting to recapture the experience.

Things don’t always develop further right after a sketching trip.  Inspiration could happen any time, even years later. There’s a lot of potential “material” waiting patiently in the studio to fuel art.

We’ll look at just what might happen with all that “material” in future issues of Studio News.

Subscribe here to receive fortnightly issues of “Studio News”.

Click here to find out about exhibitions I currently have work in.

HOMEGALLERY