Wishes and White Horses

“We must paint only what is important to us, must not respond to outside demands. They do not know what they want, or what we have to give.” – Robert Henri

One of the artists I follow (unfortunately, I have forgotten which one so I cannot provide credit for the inspiration) put the above quote on their newsletter. It struck me, as things sometimes do. As an artist, sometimes I feel an overwhelming pressure to paint certain things: barns, boats, portraits, still lives. These are the things that “real” artists paint.  Unfortunately, I am not interested in barns (unless they have horses), boats, portraits, or still lives.

At work, when I take time off to do painting things, I joke that I am “running amok.” The secret, though, is that when I’m doing art-y stuff, I feel like a combination of kid and fraud. I find so much joy (usually) in painting, but I never feel like I’m doing what I’m “supposed” to be doing.

The quote above got me thinking about the issue of importance. Mostly, I have moved past the urge to paint things simply because I should. But when I go into one of my weird phases (“I Feel Pretty” or “Pin-up Girl”) I wonder if I’ve lost it, especially when others don’t get what I’m trying to do.

As I mentioned last week, lately I have felt the urge to apply paint, but not necessary “to paint.” This theme continued this weekend. I refined these paintings from last weekend.

Then I added some layers to “Yellowstone Dancers.”

I’m pleased with how this painting is turning out, though I’m not sure when it will be “done.” Now? Next week? I do worry that it’s not saying what I intend.

Thus, I circle back to importance. Is it important that the viewer gets my intention? Or is it enough that I said what I wanted to say.