Why do we paint the easy answer? Spend hours in front of an easel topped by a canvas for painting or bent over a sketchbook. Leave the house with a sketch pad under your arm, with pencil, sharpener and eraser tucked into your pocket. Reschedule our whole routine to be able to attend that specific painting class with that particular teacher. Or the fact of stepping out of the comfort zone, putting aside the trusty acrylic colors, and trying your hand at watercolors instead to face a new challenge. In short, why do we paint? Why do we invest all this time, these energies, and these resources in art?
Let’s find out the reasons why we paint together
Here is a good question, a question that certainly does not have a single answer, in any case, and that instead has easy answers and demanding answers. Yet, those who spend daily or almost daily time face to face with a brush or other accessory give free rein to their desire for visual art – and not only – should ask themselves this question. It would allow you better to understand the reason for your approach to art and give the correct value to what some might define as a hobby, a pastime. So, let’s see it together: why do we paint?
Why do we paint? The easy answers
Why do we paint? Let’s start with the easy answers, those that arrive in seconds without even thinking about it. In many cases, we paint because we have always done it. After all, it seems natural to us, ever since we were little, as soon as they have learned to walk, some start running after a ball and never stop until they have the breath to do so. Those who start singing, or those who start strumming with the guitar or with another instrument. You can find those who likewise find it very natural to write, or perhaps more simply to read, grinding books after books every week. And some paint, starting as a child, at home and school, and then never stop.
We paint to increase self-esteem and perhaps to make it a job
We paint, then, to have satisfaction, to increase the esteem in ourselves, driven by the great satisfaction we had in finishing our first painting and drawing ideas, or by the happiness that our landscapes or our portraits hanging in our rooms give us. In many cases, we paint in the hope of making art a profession, and therefore in the perspective of being able to organize in the future – hopefully not too far – a personal exhibition, to be able to start selling their paintings who knows. , perhaps being able to survive only on painting. In this sense, it must be said, we are not speaking only of the economic side, but also of the ambition to become Painters, with a capital P, and perhaps to one day gain a permanent place in an art gallery, a museum, and maybe some art books. In short, ambition does not play a too-small role in the motivations that drive us to paint.
Many times we are pushed by parents and friends
But that’s not all. We sometimes paint because one of our parents did the same, or because a friend of ours started us in this business. Other times we paint because painting gives us that calm that we have not been able to find in other activities, because there, in those hours spent in front of a canvas, we seem to be able to forget anxieties, worries, and frustrations. Then some paint because someone pushed him to do so, my compliments for the first works. Or maybe some have started painting as an integral part of a “personal” project to stimulate creativity, improve their communication with the outside world, or even improve the hands’ motor skills. Here are the many simple answers – sometimes not entirely – to the question “why do we paint?” But we will tell you: there is another answer to this question, more complex, more profound, and more complete.
Why do we paint? A more difficult answer
To understand why we paint, why we paint, it is necessary to go back in time a little. A few centuries ago, it was somewhat easier to understand why we painted. It was simple: we painted to produce a painting, a board that portrayed something because that was the way it had to be. Point. Well, superficially, one might think that even today, the artist paints for this. But this is not the case, not anymore.
We paint to live and experience
At a certain point, looking at the artistic act very closely, the man understood that the goal was not so much the painting itself, but the very fact of painting, the artistic experience. Therefore, we could say that we paint because we want to live the experience of painting. Think about it: for centuries, man has been convinced that he has been put into the world as an expression of the will – better, of the word – of God. Indeed, every single action was a concrete manifestation of the divine will. At a certain point, at the birth of the modern age, however, we began to think that man was an autonomous being, able to define his destiny, self-defining himself. Starting from this new vision, one can only look at art differently, even if one must say that it took some time to get to the bottom of this thought.
In the works, we express ourselves, our feelings, and our emotions
The artist, as a human, is a person who defines himself. He is a subject who brings back on canvas objects separated from him, who in short paints the world, something foreign and external. But is it so? Isn’t it more correct to say that the artist, while painting, defines himself, thus bringing his experience, feelings, and human being and becoming, and therefore an artist, onto paper? From this perspective, when we make signs on a canvas, in short, we do not limit ourselves to bringing the outside world back. No, we also report, sometimes above all, ourselves.
Otherwise, where would all the fascination for the paintings of the great masters come from, for dead natures, for landscapes that we could see directly with our eyes or on photographs? The impressionists were the first to understand this completely. Then Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Monet, and Renoir, finally giving the prevalence, not to objectivity but one’s subjectivity and emotions. Looking at Degas’s dancers, Monet’s sunrise, or Cézanne’s apples, we don’t focus on dancers, the sun, or apples: we focus on Degas, Monet, and Cezanne.