Why do we paint?


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. Other people live dying.

These states of high functioning are healthy and natural. It is a state of order, perfect for functioning, and when obtained affects the mind and body in a positive lasting way.

These things being as they are, the artist’s life is a battle, a battle for freedom from the world’s constant distractions and demands. That freedom is necessary to attain that special high-state of order and -function necessary for art creation. The objective of art is not to make a finished piece of art; it is to enter a higher state of being.

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Oil and Watercolor Paintings by James A. Humphrey    © 2019

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