Why do we do what we do? As artists, what is our motivation? Why do we pick up our pens and
pencils and brushes, time and time again? As with any such question, there are as many answers as
there are artists, and sometimes there are no answers at all. Sometimes what we think today is so
completely different to what we think tomorrow, that there’s almost no point in thinking of an
answer at all.
In my case, there are quite a few factors that dictate my motivations on any given day, and lately I’ve
come to think frequently about them because I’m not sure I’m happy with the direction I’m taking.
Way back in the day, I created art simply because I wanted to. I may not have had the ability to
express the specifics of what that meant, but perhaps it was simply that…well, simple. I miss those
As I moved from simple hobbyist to serious artist and co-owner of White Bird Art & Design, I started
to see my work differently, and not really in a good way. These days, there are constant
thoughts of ‘how would the public view this?’, ‘will it be popular?’, and ‘will it sell?’. Rather than
paint for the sake of painting, I’m ever mindful of the need for ‘mastery’ of my craft. And while that’s
something good to strive for, there’s the added complication of my inability to find my lane and stick
to it. I’m seeking mastery, but I’ve not decided in what. What do I want to be known for? My oil
paintings? My subjects? My choice of palette? I can’t say because I’m simply all over the place.
And yes, I have tried to simply settle on my ‘thing’ and get very very good at it, but like
an addict with very little self-control, I find myself dropping whatever it is I’m doing and fluttering
away to the next medium/subject/idea like a demented butterfly.
Now of course there’s advantages in that also; limiting oneself to just a medium or a subject can also
limit growth, but there are only so many hours in some many days, and I fear that I’ll never find that
contentment with my art that I had in spades all these years ago.
Is there something I can do? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps there isn’t, because my short attention
span and my competitive nature are simply a part of me. I have to somehow find a way to accept
those parts of myself, while at the same time determine a way forwards where I create for the
sake of creation, and no other reason.