Do you have a sense of your purpose as an artist?

This very idea could be the one holding you back from making your art. It seems so presumptuous to call oneself an Artist, “no, no really, I’m just a Sunday painter”. How do you know you are cut out to be an artist? How did you arrive at the decision to being making art? It’s not very practical, and then, of course, how does one judge if one is any good!

The confusion starts when we think of how the lives of such artists as Picasso or Van Gogh has been glorified to form, in part, our romantic ideas of the artists life.

Picasso vs Van Gogh

Do you think serious art is only made by madmen, geniuses, or art superstars? Living in a Parisian garret is out of question for most of us. Nor do we have the comfort, in this pluralistic age, of being able to locate ourselves with clearly defined stylistic traditions where we can easily measure the quality of our work. Since art liberated itself in the early twentieth-century from serving as a vehicle for church and state, and began seeking it’s own “art for art’s sake”, an endless visa for human expression was made available. And yet what is the contemporary artist to do, struggling between the formalist values of modernism and postmodern concerns for identity, gender and the other?

Perhaps we could better ask, how does the practice of art give more purpose to living?

To be good at his/her craft, the artist must develop a keen sense of perception to Nature, a willingness to look beyond the surface. There is the willingness to embrace the wholeness of life, from intimate human dilemmas to social concerns. To find order in the chaos, make beauty where none other saw it, to accept the challenge to grow inside the work and push boundaries, all these are aspects of the creative act.

Finding one’s content or voice is usually the most difficult part of making art. It’s a funny thing, but by making a quantity of work, you’re more likely to discover what it is that interests you as an artist. You begin by thinking that the first 1,000 drawings and paintings tell you what the problems are and then the following 1,000 is spent solving them.
More is more. It’s an act of faith, like jumping in where no one would dare to go. Listening to your impulses becomes an art in itself. Leery of the decorative and the merely capable, you become a better judge of art works by seeing as much as you can. Steal all the good ideas you can find and bring them back to your studioňúresponding to what you see is creating a dialogue with your peers.

So, no, the enterprise of art making is not very practical, but think of the quality it brings to living! Don’t waste your time asking if you are any good, instead ask, is this work interesting?