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The What and the Why

March 16, 2016
Bars and blocks

oil pastel from my sketchbook

There’s a post that popped up on my Facebook page that struck a chord for me.

It’s a clip from Michael Jr. Comedy.  He’s talking about the underlying passion of what we do in our lives—what drives us, interests us, motivates us, makes us do what we do—and letting that underlying passion appear in the outcomes.

The “what” and “why” example in the clip applies so well to artmaking.

Link to Michael Jr. Comedy on WHAT

Click on the picture to play the clip

I think, as artists, we often have a lot of “what” going on, but at times we would be hard pressed to come up with the “why.” Beyond the fact that much of artmaking is a nonverbal operation, we often find it hard to put words to what we do when writing our artist statements or in talking to people who are interested in our work. Sometimes there’s not much “why” on a conscious level to keep us invested.

After watching the clip, I had to think about why I make art, and it turned out to be pretty simple:

  1. The color red. I love it. I love painting with it, coloring with it in oil pastels (especially that!), and basking in it wherever I see it (yes! to Cadmium Red Medium). Maybe I would expand “red” to just say “color.” Color pulls me in; I want to work with the subtleties of color and the “in-your-face” aspects of big, bright colors. Where else can I do that except in making art? (I do have a fair amount of red clothes, so…)
  2. I get to explore ideas about living in an urban environment, the reductionist drama of black and white imagery in drawing and collage, the mystery of making marks on canvas and covering them up in layers of paint—all speaking to my esoteric viewpoint of the world. Art doesn’t have to make sense in the usual fashion, especially abstract art, which is what I do.
  3. Because it’s hard to translate the “in-the-head” stuff to a visual object. I like that challenge.
  4. And then there’s curiosity, drama, and mystery…all components of the process.


A painting I’m working on that started as a demo during a recent presentation:

post30-studio shot

Yesterday I added some bright red bits. I’m contemplating my next move.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2017 6:46 pm

    i think paper was an average one… but the difficult questions should be kept in two marks questions rather than three marks…students are saying that question on power was a difficult one but its not difficult……..5 marks questions were easy though time consuming…….expectin +90


  2. March 18, 2017 5:08 am

    For the love of God, keep writing these arstclei.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 19, 2017 7:12 pm

      Thank you for your wonderful comment! I am behind on my blog–lots going on for the past several months, but I will get back to it soon since things are settling.


  3. Mikki Aronoff permalink
    March 16, 2016 5:56 pm

    So goooooood…..mixxx

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    • March 18, 2016 10:33 am

      Thanks, Mikki! I think the passion is never that far below the surface–just overlooked a lot of the time.


  4. March 16, 2016 5:51 pm

    This was a great post and the video explained it SO WELL. I like the piece you are working on there and can appreciate your thoughts on WHY. Thanks for this enlightened post Rebecca! (Can’t wait to see the ‘next steps’!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 18, 2016 10:35 am

      Thank you, Deb. It’s funny, isn’t it, that a short video can sort of provide an “aha” moment? I’ll post some pix of the painting as I work on it. That’s always a fun thing for me to go back and look at the decisions I’ve made…especially if I can tap into the “why” as I am making it. I appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. March 16, 2016 5:25 pm

    As you might guess, this certainly hits home with me! We can put in to use specific art making skills and perhaps have a general goal in mind, but so much of it is intuitive – that’s the fun part, right? The unspoken stirrings that beg to come out somehow, expressed as marks.
    Love the piece you’re working on!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 18, 2016 10:38 am

      So beautifully said, Beth! It’s that intuitive part that keeps me going for sure. I didn’t talk about it in my post, but I think just messing around can be a great catalyst for activating our intuition. Experimenting with different processes often gives me ideas (back to that passion!) that I want to pursue. Thanks for commenting.


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