I love talking to artists about the motivations behind the work that they do. It is an incredible window into who they are and what is important to them. Hearing these insights however, did not always fill me with inspiration. I would often find myself intimidated as I listened to artists describe the incredible stories that motivated their work. Listening to the deep soul searching that was involved or the unshakable need to shed light on an important issue, I would often return to my workbench and look at the pretty cars that I was painting and feel bit underwhelmed about what I was saying with my work. It became apparent that my choice of subject was purely visual. As I thought about that it was clear that these vintage and exotic cars definitely had endless stories behind them. The military paintings had very important stories behind each one as well, however those stories were not always my primary drive behind why they were chosen to be paintings. That really came to bother me. As I dug deeper though, the answer became clear. I started by asking myself what was important to me about my work. What did I really enjoy about the painting that I was doing? All the answers to these questions led back to one thing. I am intoxicated by the process. I revel in tackling technical challenges that seem impossible. My joy was not coming from the subject but rather the actual painting process. Things began to make sense for me once I really came to this realization. I often wondered why I was comfortable painting any subject matter and didn’t prefer one over the other. It was because the process came first for me, the subject was secondary.
So what did I do with this info? Well by default, adding any self realization helps us grow. Removing that faulty filter that was nagging me about my own art motivations really allowed me to hear and interact with other artists about their work and that in turn that motivates me even more. Coming to this understanding also shows me where I could improve as an artist. Now that I understand that I tend to choose my subjects from a purely visual standpoint, I could work harder to look for subjects with stories that are in need of being told to balance things out.
It will always be the process first for me but now not only can I be comfortable with that, I can also grow from it.