do you love what you create?

detail of new work, new series

detail of new work, new series

Last week I began a new series of paintings. At the time that I sat down to paint however, I didn't know I was about to start a series of paintings like none I'd painted before. I really liked this first painting. When it was complete, I sat back and stared at it for a long period of time because I felt very pleased with its outcome. I was surprised I thought it was so good. I'm not sure the last time I felt this way about one of my works of art. In truth, I like the vast majority of what I create. I believe most artists do like their own work. And yet I realized in that moment, that I hadn't felt so deeply content and pleased with a work of mine in a really long time. Perhaps the reason this one felt so good is because I sat down to paint that night with no particular outcome in mind. I only wanted (needed) to feel the brush in my hand and see the dance of colors. 

It's a little odd to really think about I feel about my own artwork. If I find I've created something that I don't like, I simply paint over it, recycle it into another piece of work, or sometimes, trash it. But how often do I "love" my work? A great number of my paintings are visual representations of the stories that live in my soul, and once rendered in art form, my feelings of attachment to them and favor for them, begins to lessen. 

Over the years, there have been works of art that I have created that have made me very happy. That have helped me work through an issue or situation, and bridged gaps between what I perceive and what is real. Most have been painted because I was filled with joy. And there are some that I like just fine, but wouldn't want to look at every day hanging in my home. This is a truth I'm not sure many artists would admit to. I don't believe we have to think all of our work is good and love every single work of art we create. But these works are no less important to our artistic and creative journey. They are no less part of us and our story. To date, I only have one painting that is mine to keep, one I wouldn't sell. It has great meaning to me as it represents a time in my life of fear and uncertainty about my future. 

This painting tells the story of natural beauty, which I knew in my heart, and deep in my soul, would heal me. And I won't go so far as to say that this painting is even one of my best, but I need to see it every day. This painting is beautiful in my eyes, and I have had people tell me it is to them as well, which is nice, but not essential to how I feel about this painting. It is a reminder of that tender time in my life, big decisions made and of following my gut instincts. 

As an artist, as someone who creates images on canvas, there will be works that I myself find wonderfully wonderful, and some that simply need to be created in ugliness and later painted over. There will be many paintings that delight me and some that disgust me. And every single one is important to my creative life, to my stories that must be told. Some are silent companions here to walk with me in times of sorrow and some are vibrant dances of color and shape that scream my enthusiasm for life. 

I don't have to love every single painting I paint. I don't need to believe that every word I write and story I tell are master works of art. I simply have to keep creating. God gave me this gift with no strings attached other than the wish that I create.  

I'm excited about this new work and eager to share these paintings. They tell another story. One of mountains, flora and fauna, colorful land and sky, places seen and dreamed. Adventures had and plans ahead. They are simple and to the point. They are me. They are you. 

~am