Studying Art (17) – Why do you paint?

I’ve been challenged with this innocent question recently, and though I came up with an immediate answer at that moment ‘of truth’, I still keep pondering over it now, as if looking for a deeper, fuller view…

Why do you paint? Why do I paint?

My photographs say most of what I want to convey, my writing could explain the rest… I enjoy constructing installations, and I’ve got a truly creative time exploring all the new media available… Yet, I’ve been coming back to painting like a prodigal son, despite,  or – perhaps – because of everything, that has been given and taken away from me, due to my pursuit of this particular way… That ‘everything’, which I find almost beyond any description…

I remember being praised for that ‘loyalty’ to the medium, and my answer – quick, almost sub-conscious, was:
– Well, we cannot escape ourselves, can we?…
And then I added:
– In forty years time, I will probably still be painting…

Strange, how sure I was about it at that time, having only few studies in paint executed and still being largely ignorant about the most basic things…

I’m far from crafting any cryptic messages about the mystical connections between a painter and his materials, between his psyche and that angelic ‘monster’ – the painting, which always proves to be stronger than its creator… There is something true about it and those, who paint can grasp it… Yet, there is much more…

Painting has got that power to create, and abolish, entire worlds… just now… And the responsibility for that is a part of an adventure… Just like the all  pain involved into it…

That was my ‘raw’,  intuitive answer to the title-question. I meant by that, that each time I take a paint-loaded brush to live a mark on canvas I’m in a charge of an universe, which is out there, waiting to be created in me, and – through me – in an artwork…

It can take a minute or years; it can cost nothing or life and health; it can result in generation-changing discoveries and it may end up in a private despair only… Yet – there is that creative, never-ending, always profound challenge no other artistic medium, I know, can offer to a searching mind and courageous spirit… The challenge to capture the essence of life and death, humanity and divinity, what has ever existed and what is possible yet…

Painting is my Theory of Everything – it aims at explaining and linking all the matter of my consciousness (and unconscious) into an independent, evocative system – a Cosmos taming and denying Chaos .

Painting is the projection of my humanity, it’s a story of a human being… No other medium (except maybe music) appears to be so close to the human nervous system – I paint with my nerves, I paint with my blood and cells… I paint as a living being – living organism to create another living organisms – self-sufficient microcosms.

I paint to save and to be saved…

And you – Why do YOU paint?



About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

7 responses to “Studying Art (17) – Why do you paint?

  • Stan

    Hello Katarzyna, it’s a tantalising question, and you wrote a very interesting answer! I think any artistic endeavour is an attempt to communicate with oneself, with other people, and with the world in general. Art is the universe talking to itself about beauty, truth, form, harmony, pattern, creativity itself, etc., and we are its media.

    There is a creative urge implicit in life, so humans’ capacity to deliberately make art is both remarkable and very natural; art allows us ultimately to tune in to something older, grander and more interesting than our egos.

    (I used to paint and I wish I had the time to get back into it…)

    • skonieczna

      Hello Stan
      Wow, it is a quite thoughtful comment and a mini-article in itself… I would sign myself under it in general. I will follow you in your online activities (if you don’t mind). All the best to you… Join me on twitter and facebook (if you bother with that)

      • Stan

        Oops, I didn’t mean to write a mini-article, but a short response would have been too cryptic. In a way it is an impossible question to answer, or answer satisfactorily, but there’s a lot of fun and interest in exploring it, and in hearing why other people paint (or otherwise create). The Zen reaction to your question would have been to pick up a paintbrush, but there was only a pen here, so I doodled, then wrote. If I wrote another response now, it would be a bit different.

        Someone – maybe Amos Vogel – once wrote that the purpose of art is to change consciousness. To borrow your phrase, I think I would sign myself under that too, though it applies to a different question. And a different mini-article!

  • skonieczna

    Thanks Stan
    We seem to have similar writing/thinking style – I very rarely have an impression I would answer the same questions/express the same ideas the same way; in a sense – how could I if I change continuously, alike the world around and people who affect me? Cheers. K.

    • Stan

      “We seem to have similar writing/thinking style”

      Indeed – reading your blog I find myself nodding in agreement more than usual!

      Although it is an ancient idea (and, I would add, a truth) that everything is always changing, there seems to be a lot of resistance to it – sociological, political and otherwise. So the idea is as important and relevant as ever. Perhaps the resistance has to do with insecurity about mortality (or infinity), and the corresponding attraction of permanence. People generally just don’t know how to deal with The End. Art can delve deep into this terrain, loosen our misconceptions, help us confront those anxieties etc.

      By the way, I meant to say: certainly I don’t mind if you follow me online. Facebook is not for me, but I’m finding Twitter to be fun and interesting.

  • Josh W

    One fascinating thing about painting is how it can make a world from no world, how depth can be “conjured” from a flat surface. Unlike constructions where the spaces and the shapes exist without much work, and must be heavily worked to change, in painting depth and space can flower into existence with a brushstroke, weaken, change, and come back new as you paint more.

    That magical world-fluidity pretty much only exists in music in anything like the same force.

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