I can imagine few tasks as lonely as painting. I believe this characteristic of my art form motivates painting classes, “plein air” excursions and painting clubs. Most artists are not hermits. They do not choose to work alone.
If that is so, why is the public’s mental image of an artist one of a lonely soul working feverishly in a garret somewhere? Because that image rings true.
Painting is a solitary process. It often begins with a visitation by the creative muse inspiring a person to invent something from nothing. Then an execution commences that can be very messy. Paint, dirty brushes, spill prone containers of mediums, water or brush cleaner all invite cleaning catastrophe. Add infinite numbers of progress decisions by the artist - each a solitary and singular choice taken to expedite an outcome only visible in the painter’s mind - would force me to exile the perpetrator immediately to one of those garrets. The process demands isolation.
Surprise! The reason for painting is not to make a picture. The picture that results from the process of painting is a by-product.
It may be a useful, valuable or interesting by-product but it is only a reminder of the past. The object of any true work of art, including a painting, is the attainment of a high mental and physical function (much higher than ordinary) that occurs while creating art. The results are important to the artist because they are records of an experience which the artist immensely enjoyed and wants to recapture.
With painting, it is reasonable that taking up painting materials and beginning to manipulate them will evoke this state of high function. There are artists who are always at the easel, tools in hand, waiting. Appreciation of a subject, hearing music, a graceful gesture -- all these things may inspire. The artist treasures the fuller functioning that comes with inspiration because of its higher state of living. Artists are different. They live living. Othe...