In many ways I’m like a three year old. Case in point: I’m a massive fan of asking questions. Questions open doors, they move you forward, they find new ways of doing things. The day I stop asking questions is the day I know I’ve stopped growing.

{And since things are always – according to a quote I can’t seem to nail down to one person – either growing or dying, I’m not planning to stop asking questions any time soon.}

With regards to our art, I think it can be really helpful to ask ourselves questions for all sorts of reasons. From ‘what might I like to try?’ to ‘where I can learn more about this particular technique?’ to ‘what do I want to say?’, asking questions is a way to not just learn more, or to be able to be articulate about your work, but also to reset when things go awry.

By asking ourselves certain questions we can come back to centre, remember why we are doing what we’re doing, reconnect with the love that got us started in the first place. This can be hugely helpful during those inevitable lost, frustrated, stuck moments.

Obviously there are millions of questions you could ask, so today I’m just picking three, and answering them myself as an example. I encourage you not to answer the ‘easy’ answer; sometimes sitting with a question for a little while can bring new insights beyond what we thought we knew.

So today I’m asking this about your art:

1. Why do you make it?

2. How do you make it?

3. What does it mean to you?

 

And here is how I would answer those questions today – remember this isn’t going to be carved into tablets of stone. It will change as you do.:

 

1. Why do I make it?

There are quite a few reasons, which come and go in intensity according to where I am in myself.

It does seem that I ‘have to’; there’s a compulsion that I know will always return, even if it fades out for a while. It sometimes manifests in an ‘itchy’ feeling. Not being creative for long periods makes me grumpy and can lead to, or exacerbate, low moods.

I make art because it gives me pleasure; the literal act of dipping a brush or my fingers into rich scoops of colour and the sound and feel of spreading them across the canvas are for me one of life’s sensual pleasures.

I make art because it’s a challenge; I love to learn {hence all the questions!}, so I love to learn about how to expand my artistic gifts, how to get better at doing what I love, and at expressing myself through this medium.

I make art as a way of experimenting; for me the studio is a safe place where I am surrounded by ‘friends’ and where I can make a mess and try things out knowing I don’t have to share or keep them.

I make art because it’s a way to self express. Even if I don’t know exactly what I’m expressing – and I don’t feel it’s necessarily important to know – the ability to bring what is within out, is a way of being myself in the world.

 

2. How do I make it?

Another way to put this might be, how do I approach my art making? Again I think the word ‘experiment’ applies well here. I guess I don’t take it that seriously, which is not the same as saying it’s not important to me. I seem to have a mostly light hearted, ‘try it and see’ approach. I like to try out new materials, to mix and match, to play without a fixed outcome in mind. And recently I’ve been working much more consciously with creating art in deliberate collaboration with Spirit.

{I’m aware that another way to answer this question would be to talk about what techniques and materials I use, but that’s less interesting to me than this other kind of ‘how’. You might also ask and answer all these questions about a specific painting. This is the beauty of answering questions for yourself.}

 

3. What does it mean to me?

This is a particularly interesting question to me, because it could also be taken to mean what does my art mean, what’s it about? And that’s something I can’t answer. I’ve tried!

As I discussed in this post, I’m often intrigued by artist’s statements; that apparently other artists can not just use words to talk about their work, but that their work is for a purpose – to tell stories, to make a political statement, to muse on existential concepts, to discover or demonstrate beliefs. I have no artist’s statement because I have nothing to state about my art. It is not preconceived; it’s not about exploring ideas or even asking or answering questions. It just happens.

The meaning of my art to me is outside of what verbal language can explain. I have literally been sitting here, hands poised above the keyboard, trying to squeeze from the rich depth of wordless meaning it has for me something that might make sense in words. It’s not happening. The best I can offer right now is that it is at best a pure form of self expression.

 

So tell me, what would your answers to these three questions be? Let me know in the comments, I’m most curious about your experience, whether you’ve been making art all your life or started last week. Tell me how YOU would answer these questions.

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