Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What Moves You?

I haven't blogged about caretaking for a while.  This blog is, after all, about living a creative life and my caretaking is about me personally.  But art is life, isn't it? I mean we draw from our experiences to make our art.

Some of the best art has a great story behind it. Pain, suffering, grief, sorrow, joy and love have produced some very powerful work that connects with others. It's when we can convey these powerful emotions through our art that it speaks to others.

I've always struggled with this concept. When I was younger I only liked "happy little paintings"!  (Remember Bob Ross-I guess that was "happy little accidents")  I didn't like my art to be dark or depressing. I liked comedies and upbeat music. I'm still like that. I like to surround myself with the positive. But through the years I've grown to appreciate the back stories of artists and the experiences they drew on to create. I'm not saying the only way to make great art is to live a tortured miserable life!  Great works are not all created in the depths of despair, but many are. The work that moves me, speaks to me somehow. It connects on some level. 

Some of the best advice I've ever been given was by Mary Whyte at a workshop I attended. She spends time with each student alone and talks about their work. When I sat down with her she told me I needed to connect with what moved me and use that in my work. That when I did that my work would take on the quality I was missing?  The connection. I pondered that for a long time, not really sure what it meant exactly. I felt I had been painting what moved me. So what was I missing.  I looked over all my work and realized it was painted for others. For a viewer. I painted for the viewer first, making sure I used good technique and correct values, etc. As I thought about what moved me personally, and what I really enjoyed painting, I realized it really isn't that hard. I am moved by the evening light that hits the lawn and makes it glow. I am moved by a child laughing. A bird in flight. A dandelion. I am moved by not just the grand or beautiful things, but also by the small ordinary miracles we gloss over so easily. 

So this is what I paint now. I look for what moves me. You can always find something, even in the most boring still life, that speaks to you. Look for that. And for what moves you in the everyday. Connect with your feelings and find some way to say what you need to say.  

So here is a quick sketch of my dad. This is my everyday. (I worked on it too long and lost some of the freshness and a lot of his likeness, but it is what it is). It doesn't say anything except---here we are again today.  And aren't we lucky we are?  That moves me. 


  1. Thank goodness I paint for me, I am assured of atleast one fan!!
    nice to hear from you!

    1. Ha, yes we all paint for both ourselves and others or no one would ever paint at all or show anyone thier work. I didn't articulate it well, I don't think. But it can be a trap when you are showing and selling your work to get caught up in that. I'm growing in my art even when I'm not doing it!! Nice to hear from you too--I hear you are doing big things in your studio! I must come see it and you sometime-Hugs!

  2. You are doing well. At one point in my life I felt angry and lost, so decided to paint that! No good - I found it impossibly difficult. I turned the work into a mixed media "forever" painting which is permanently on the easel and the excipient of all kinds of "stuff". Just it's presence is therapeutic for me.
    Thank you for your blog, Michelle.

    1. That is an interesting idea! I bet it is good therapy! I thank you for reading!! Keep doing art Eddi,it's good for what ails us!

  3. Love the painting and everything you wrote about. We so miss you at book club and hope to see you in February.

  4. Love the sketch of your father and all that you said. Miss you terribly at book club.
    Hugs, Donna