View Full Version : Why Do You Paint?

02-23-2006, 10:39 PM
Why do you paint & why have you chosen a particular medium?

I’d make this a poll, but since the polls only allow for one answer and I think many people have multiple answers, I’m not going to do that.

The thread titled, “Male –Female Pastelists?” has “morphed” into several other areas of interest, and one thing that crossed my mind is why people – men and women – choose painting as a source of creative outlet. Why do they choose one medium over another? I know there are many short answers that everyone has in common, and that’s not really why I’m asking. (i.e. the immediacy of the medium, the vibrant colors, etc)
What I’d like to know, and perhaps others do to, is:
Do you paint to only satisfy yourself?
Do you paint to satisfy/impress other painters, your parents, friends, or spouse?
Do you paint to earn a living?
Do you paint to have something to share with friends and family members, but not necessarily sell to make a living?
Do you paint to compete in art competitions?
Do you paint to share in a social community of like minded persons? (i.e. Wet Canvas, societies & art associations)
Most important if you have several reasons for painting, what is the order of importance, and how do you accomplish your most important goal?

Along another line:
If you need/want to earn a living at your painting, why have you chosen one medium over another?
Do you work in more than one medium, and if so does one sell better than the others?
Do you have similar prices on the different mediums?
Is one easier to get gallery owners to accept and successfully market?
Do you teach workshops and classes or strictly paint to sell and earn a living?
Have you written books, magazine articles, or produced DVDs? If so, does this also satisfy another form of creativity for you or do you see it strictly as another form of business and getting your name known? (There’s nothing wrong with that!)

Obviously not all of these questions are relevant to everyone, and there may be more that I’ve not thought of, but you will! I’d like to create a dialogue in this regard to perhaps better understand the creative process for both men and women. I’m betting we have more in common than not, and there is some undefined “other source” as to why it seems more men have success than women in the area of art marketing & world recognition, and why more women are painters in all other aspects.


02-23-2006, 11:32 PM
I paint for myself first. It's challenging to me.
I've had friends offer to pay me if I paint them something, but that has not happened because I'm busy.

I like oil painting and soft pastel. I toggle between the different mediums. I give away alot of my pastels to friends who like them because they are hard to frame and so I just give away at this point. Oils, I give to family or I keep.

When I am good, I wouldn't compete. I would paint for others and what they want or for myself. I would also do a DVD like a library of various subject matter in differet techniques of pastel to give a good foundation of everything I have learned and am still learning, but this would never happen for many years. We all have something to teach and if someone does't teach, someone else should. Help is help and when your new anything helps. WIP's are ok, but its better to see it motion picture. I love teaching so eventually when I get good, I could see myself doing that, but not until.

02-24-2006, 12:13 AM
I chose the pastel medium because of my french grandmother. I was painting in acrylics and my mother was showing me some of my french grandmothers paintings. She used color pencils and pastels. Since drawing is my strength, I decided to try it and got addicted
Why I paint??? Just like always having a pencil in my hand growing up. It's a compulsion. A need inside me to do this. Like a strong, uncontrolable craving to do this. I can't just walk away. I feel a need to do it from inside me.

02-24-2006, 03:15 AM
I paint because I have to, the pain of not painting becomes too much to bear. It is really therapy for me, it keeps me happy to be constantly creating. I make many things, not just painting, but I am constantly creating something. At this point, I would like to sell some work so I can pay for my art supplies, which I have a huge investment in. Fortunately, I love what I do for a living (esthetician) and it is an art form for me also, but painting . . . I don't think I have a choice here, I just have to do it.

02-24-2006, 05:32 AM
I Have to Paint..... I have always drawn and painted from a really early age, and seemed all set for a career in Art, for one reason or another, I never followed that path (though have always been creative in one way or another through my life)...... so it has always been a... "What If". I saw a TV programme some years ago of someone using Pastels, had never seen the likes before, bought some to have a go.....Hundreds of years passed... and the "What If" called stronger..... 4 years ago picked up the pastels and stumbled into WC...... I had to paint so much, so often to get to a level that I myself felt comfortable with. Pastels suit my temprament (but I do wish they would 'set'). When I appeared in the Magzine article last year, was asked, "would I like to paint full time, they were surprised when I said NO! ... and explained, if I did, it would then become a JOB"............ so being realistic.......
I have a job, it pays and gives me a living...... my Art Sales are a bonus.... I dont think there are many Artists who can claim they make a 'living (wage) out of purely selling their Paintings, they have to supplement it with other work. So I know for myself if I painted for a living, I would have to take on another job....... just done a few figures ha! ...... I would have to Sell 400 pictures a year!!! :eek:

02-24-2006, 07:05 AM
I paint for myself first, then for the gratification that comes from other people's liking what I do. It's really a good feeling when I paint a portrait of a person or a pet that has passed on and the client hugs me and thanks me for the work that I've done. It's just awesome to bring that feeling from a painting....it's nice to have others appreciate my work.
I don't sell a lot of my work, just because it doesn't sell well...I try, but it just doesn't happen that often, so the money really doesn't motivate me.
I donate most of my work and that is very satisfying.
I guess the real reason that I paint is because I like to...

02-24-2006, 09:09 AM
Mike, I checked out your website and cannot believe you don't sell tons of your paintings. They are beautiful. Outstanding. You need to find someway of getting it out there as you are quite the artist.

Bill Foehringer
02-24-2006, 09:39 AM
I draw and paint because that's part of who I am. At a very early age I felt this wonderful surge whenever I put pencil to paper. I can't describe this feeling easily. Surge, 'rush', a sense that I am pulling things from all over my mind and channelling them into this connection between eye/mind/hand. I particularly feel this when I paint outside. I feel the image being absorbed by my senses. I can then feel my mind processing these images into new images that can be put down as marks of pastel. I do 'see' myself making the choice of how to render a color or a shape. That creative choice comes up out of my mind where it's been processed. I am deliberately pulling 'marks on paper' out of the synergy happening in my mind. I am consciously weighing and comparing the concept of this new mark with what has gone before and what I see coming in the future. This is the discipline that must be mastered. However if this process is overmanaged my paintings come out stiff. I must allow more synergy between marks, more 'blurring' of marks in my mind to allow for a more painterly look to what I put down on paper. I do not mean the marks themselves should be blurry. I'm talking about the relationships between the concepts behind the marks. The marks themselves have to be precisely what the 'concept' calls for. Sometimes these marks are exactly what looks correct when they hit the paper and sometimes not but the approximation provides feedback for refinement and for future marks on the paper. This cycle of feedback continues until the piece is done. Many times as I leave the location my mind is still processing what I just did. I love this replay aftermath of a painting session also.
These are the artistic feelings I love. It is precisely the feeling of processing what I see into what I can put down to represent what I see. How I make this transmutation is my signature as an artist. We each have a unique artistic signature which arises from this process of transformation.
I paint because I love to be fully engaged in this mental transmutation.
I paint in pastels largely by chance. I was out of college. I had missed starting grad school because I had to go be a 'caregiver' (terminology that did not exist back in the mid-seventies) to my uncle that fall for about 6 weeks. Later, I was back at the college town managing an apartment building. I missed the mental engagement of school. I had travelled through the lower Canadian Rockies after graduation and before taking care of my uncle. I had a small photo and some memories that needed to be put down. I had been drawing in charcol as a break from my chem major studies and had begun to add pastels for color. So I decided to do a pretty large pastel of a mountainside in my spare time. This is when I first really felt myself feeling that mental synergy that I find so enjoyable now. At the time I saw it as an idle pass-time. Art, as such was not part of my world. Getting a 'paying job', etc was the serious thing to do. I never considered making a living as an artist. Hey, what did I know? If I had not gone back down to try to get back into school I would not have met my wife and we would not have a wonderful, brilliant dancer for a daughter. (Says the proud, bewildered father who can't figure out how this child came from him, LOL. I just sent off a check for her to attend a River North Dance intensive. She's 16 and intends to dance for the River North Dance Company to help pay for college in pre-med in one of the big Chicago medical schools. What's really scary is that she can also tell, at a glance, when one of my paintings 'works' or not and in non-artistic terms why.)
Of course, now I think about creating art as a serious endeavor. Yet I keep letting life get in the way, sigh. I need to aim as high as my daughter does.
Yeah, I paint because I can no longer live without that 'feeling' when I paint.
I hope this makes sense.

02-24-2006, 07:12 PM
Mike, I checked out your website and cannot believe you don't sell tons of your paintings. They are beautiful. Outstanding. You need to find someway of getting it out there as you are quite the artist.

Thank you very much for your compliments...
You're probably right on getting my work out there. After floating around this site and looking at the work on here, I can see that there is MUCH competition "out there"....:eek: :eek: :eek:

Kathryn Wilson
02-24-2006, 07:19 PM
For those of you who are a little surprised that this thread is in the Cafe - Peggy and the Mods decided that it would be a great plus for the Pastel Forum for all of WC to join in on the discussion. I think we can all benefit from thoughts and ideas from people working in other mediums, as well as pastels.

Looks like a good start Peggy!

Donna A
02-24-2006, 10:09 PM
I paint because I see soooo much beauty around me----and delicious colors! It's my way of celebrating/expressing what I relish. Some use music or dance or writing, etc. I've also written a great deal of poetry.

My mom says I began my career as a muralist. As soon as I could crawl----and find something that would make marks, I began decorating all the wallpaper. It did take her a little while to figure out giving up and just getting me lots of drawing paper and crayolas. :-) Ahhhh! Luxury!!! Aways managed to talk mom and dad into a box of crayons larger than the size the suggested for the grade I was in. And then I remember being sooo amazed that no one else arranged their colors in rainbow order. Just any old way. Argh! Talked them into tube watercolors early on. Wow! Real ones! Exciting. And my first oil set---Yea!!!---and won a set of 16 tempera colors for something. And colored pencils. Anything that I could paint and draw with! I have just always been a art-materials collector---and experimenter!

My painting has always been a deep part of my life. Color is the most important aspect! I'm physically moved by color, as well as emotionally. There is so much glorious color around us----so many amazing, wonderful color relationships that are such energetic vibrations with each other that I think it's GLORIOUS!!!

I see my painting materials as different methods of delivering pigment. I've worked with all the painting, drawing and printmaking mediums, most----rather considerably! Pastel and oil are my favorites. I play back and forth. I have large easels set up in my studio for both. There are times when I've been working in both mediums the same day, since I always like to have several paintings going at once. But more often, I will be focusing on one medium for a while with a body of work, and then cozy back up with the other one. Ahhhh----life is good. And I do enjoy fussing around with digital art, tho have used it more for "support" materials that art the last couple/three years. And last year, most of my work was focused on my Mastering Color DVD series, so I got in a LOT of computer work for support material and text writing for the 3 Galleries on the DVDs.

For subject matter----I've always enjoyed "all of it!" :-) Many portraits and figure paintings. Still lifes can be such wonderful excuses for juicy color relationships----and forms and shapes and lighting, etc! As can most anything else, of course. And much of what I've done the last many years are landscapes. Love waterways and pathways and-----oh---ANY excuse for lavishing pigment!!!! :-) Lighting and shadow effects are very important to me. Dynamic energies. Composition. (In "my other life" I would have been a structural engineer.)

In the long run----visually----a painting is shapes of colors.

Something I discovered was that almost always, the most trouble most artists have with painting is SEEING!!! So let's all just keep looking at/for those gorgeous juicy colors!!! Yum! :-)

Boy, Peggy had so many great question points. But I don't remember the rest of them. (I very much miss my memory!!!) :-) So---fair well! Happy Painting! Donna ;-}

02-24-2006, 10:40 PM
I paint for many reasons, but mainly because I just love it. I am slightly obessed with art, not only making it but also appreciating other people's art. Simple answer.

I was a compulsive artist since childhood. By compulsive I mean drawing for hours, not getting up. I had a long time though when i did not paint, about 18 years.

But then about 2 years I got to art again. And won't abandon it anymore.

I participate in jured art shows but it is not why I paint.

I don't paint on a regular basis due to other things i am busy with, but I sure try whenever time permits.

As about medium, I like oil the most. But I currently don't paint in oil due to space limitiations.

I tried every possible medium there is. I currently paint in watercolor (why? not as much mess and doesn't require much space).

I also started to draw in colored pencil last year. Why? very portable and non messy. I however am not that much into it, I was excited at first because it was easy. I got into 2 jured art shows with my very second colored pencil piece. It wouldn't happen with other medioum. But I started losing my intrest in it . All of my colored pencil pieces look the same and I don't feel like I can create something new, plus it is too time consuming. So I guess watercolor is my first choice as of now.

Art is not my career though.


02-24-2006, 10:52 PM
I began painting on a bet with my brother.

Once, when he was home from medical school, we went to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. (They give you a little sticker that says "MFAH" when you buy your ticket which your supposed to stick on your shirt as you tour the museum, indicating that you've paid the price of admission, and we had a bit of fun imagining the profanity which this acronym invoked and which each appreciator of the arts had willingly labeled themselves with. Haha. Awesome. Stupid, but fun is fun. I'm sure the MFAH employees find it a morale booster.)

Anyhow, at the time, they had a John Singer Sargent, a little watercolor painting of a garden, with sunlight and shade contrasting sharply. I only vaguely remember it now, it seems to have since gone from the museum, or at least the last few times I've been there, I haven't been able to find it. We both agreed it was pretty good, (duh!) and my brother maintained it was impossibly difficult to paint, while I maintained, that while difficult, it was not impossibly so.

So, a sort of bet was agreed upon, in which I should attempt to paint a painting, and he would be the judge of whether it was "good enough" to win. There were terms... but several years elepsed between the bet being set, and the terms being met. So much so, that neither of us really remembered the terms, or the amount of the bet. But the resulting painting was judged "good," in any case, and the bet was never really the point anyway, it was just the initial spark. It now hangs in my brother's house. (What a ringing endorsement of my painting skills, eh? "Oooh, even *your brother* likes your paintings? You must be good." Lol.

Anyway, thats what started me off painting, pretty much.

Why do I continue to paint... that's a hard question.

Sometimes, painting is a bit a of chore, and it's those times I slack off, sometimes for more than a year at a time.

I do crave approval from others, but I also think at times I'm my own harshest critic, not that I'm particularly harsh necessarily -- my other critics are probalby overly accomodating. There are a good number of my paintings which have been "hung" (out to dry) in my closet, never to see the light of day. But, a few I'm happy with are on my walls.

I think I paint because 1) I like cool paintings, 2) I would like to be able to make cool paintings, 3) I'm much more likely to say, "I bet I could do something that cool," and attempt it, then simply _buy_ something someone else made. Hell, I did that upon seeing a freakin' _John Singer Sargent_!

My medium of choice these days is acrylics. The reason is because they are not watercolors which have the limitation that you have to paint light to dark, and they are so transparent -- I did do a few watercolors, and even one or two that turned out really cool -- but I just wanted something opaque. So watercolors were out due to lack of opacity. Acrylics were the next chocie because they were similar to watercolors in terms of toxicity and solvents -- i.e. non-toxic (for the most part) and soluble in water.

I've still never tried oils. The toxicity and solvents just are not appealing to me. The process automatically generates toxic waste, which I just don't want to deal with. Acrylics generate too much toxic waste as is, (though I try to restrain myself to using the least toxic pigments I can find, sometimes nothing will do but a Cadmium....)

02-24-2006, 11:05 PM
...mmm, and Sargent is the very coolest!
I paint because, as has been said by many before me, I must. Get rather grumpy and antsy if I dont. Then there are those times when someone waves some money in my face, and that is a very good reason to paint. I go to a gallery and see a painting that I admire, and I have to paint, being inspired to capture some essence of what initially moved me by the piece I had seen. I love oils, I love airbrush, I love charcoal and conte. I enjoy going out, and realizing that I still have paint in my nails, and thinking, I would rather be that person, than the one with the perfectly manicured fingers. :thumbsup:

02-24-2006, 11:44 PM
I paint because I love it.I remember every time I entered in a church(and I still do) and I was amazed by the decoration.Our local church has the stations of the cross painted by an unknown baroque artist.This set of paintings woke inside me the desire of paint and copy the same stations of the cross,but I couldn't.So I began practicing,I remember I bought a book "The secrets of the Spanish masters"I don't remember the author,but I practiced what the book said.And I have been painting ever since,and I will for more years to come.:)

02-25-2006, 06:44 AM
As with some previous replies, my main reason for painting is the sheer enjoyment, both in the process of creating, and sometimes in the finished piece. I love it when a finished piece surprises me every time I glance at it.

I like to explore different mediums and combinations. My current favourites are watercolour, and acrylic(artist acrylic and household emulsion), but I like to use them in non-traditional techniques. I have a lot more playing/experimenting to do!

Painting is my current "craze". I get creative urges which last several years. Previous ones have been writing (music/songs/stories/poetry), clay sculpting and plaster casting, knitting, and painting beach pebbles.

Money is no real motive, as I have a very modest but adequate pension. The pleasure is considerable, though, when someone likes my work enough to buy it!

Mary :wave:

02-25-2006, 12:00 PM
I paint for myself. There is nothing I love more than seeing the brilliant colour erupt on the paper before me. That moment when I see a painting come together thrills me in a way nothing else can. I don't paint to impress anyone. My family doesn't understand my need to create and as a child I was discouraged by them. Now they regret saying those horrible things every time I tell them a piece has sold.

I don't ever expect to make a living from my paintings, but a nice supplemental income would be wonderful. Most of my sales are to co-workers who didn't know I was a painter and who become impressed and suddenly want to own one of my pieces.

As of yet, I haven't tried to compete in competitions. One day I may give it a try. I would like to show my work though and have small shows. It would be just another way to get my work out there.

I chose soft pastel because I felt I connected with the medium the first time i picked up a stick. I was a watercolourist for years (and not a very good one) so my surprise at falling in love with pastel so quickly forced me to keep going with it and realize my potential. Art materials used to be something that was kept in a a small box and brought out when the desire to paint struck. Now it is a whole room in my house and an integral part of my life. If you had told me 2 years ago that my artwork was saleable, I would have laughed at you.

I have other mediums in my studio, but they are my play mediums. After working in pastel, I don't like the feel of a brush in my hand anymore. I like to be "hands on". I also paint differently when I work in other mediums. The paintings don't even look like something I would do.

One day, I would like to get to the point where i can teach people all that i have learned. I'm not there yet, but I hope to get there. To help others fall in love with the medium that is so dear my heart would be a wonderful experience. I hope to get there one day.

03-08-2006, 03:49 PM
I paint because I love it and because it's fun. It's something I've always wanted to do. Of course I guess it goes beyond "fun" as if I merely painted for fun I would not keep signing up for these life drawing classes at the art museum. They are not fun, they are agony. :D Each week, when I go, I say to myself "why on earth am I doing this?". So I guess it goes deeper than fun. I also paint to challenge myself, and to continue to learn.

So far I have never earned a single penny from my art. It's a financial drain, buying all those supplies. But I love pastels passionately. It would be fun to sell my work some day - not because I need the money, since I have a decent day job, but just as a recognition that other people think my work is valuable and worthwhile. That would be a very cool feeling.

Donna A
03-08-2006, 07:07 PM
I paint because I've never considered my life without painting as a part of it. Guess what I should say is that I've never been aware of my life without painting. I can't remember not painting. It is ME. I am IT. It is my best form of celebrating all the beauty around us. It's how I exhale. It's a blessing. And I think that we, who can see the world in different ways than 80% of the world, those of the Left Hemishpere, have something wonderful to share with the others. We are almost an Exclusive Club---20% who see the world from the Right Hemisphere. We don't see things the same. We have probably paid prices. But we have revelled in sooo much!!!! And I guess I really think it is our gift to share with "the others," the 80% of the population who see things linearly, sequentially---not spacial and so on as we "Right Lobers" do!!! I really celebrate how we SEE the things around us! I feel so thankful! And I LOVE color!!! Even Grays are color!!! It's all potentially GORGEOUS!!! Yea!!!! Donna ;-}

03-19-2006, 08:11 PM
Why do you paint
I sometimes wonder!

I don't stick to one medium - I've tried all sorts: oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolours, sculpture. It depends what I'm interested in at the time. Right now, I'm finding photography seems to be suiting what I want to express. :)