“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.

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