|Faith in the Wilderness by Patricia Watwood, oil on canvas, 2010.|
Perhaps sometime over the last couple of years, you looked at your most recent drawing or oil painting and thought “Why am I doing this?” The economic recession has caused all of us to rethink our commitments and has given many artists reason to doubt that “making it” as a professional is a realistic goal. For most of us, sales and money in your pocket make you feel like a “real” artist, and give (maybe false) validation of one’s accomplishments at the easel.
When you don’t sell anything you start to question everything about your profession. Maybe you, too, have considered throwing in the towel and becoming a hairdresser like I have! Do you know that song lyric, “No one said it would be easy…but I never thought it would be this hard…?” I've definitely had moments when I can relate.
So, why keep doing it? Why keep getting up every morning, juggling all those balls, schlepping to the studio and fighting that “Lucha Aeterna”? Well, because I love painting–all the oil painting techniques I know and just the sheer experience of painting. Even when no one pays me to do it.
This painting is called Faith in the Wilderness and in many ways it is an autobiographical allegory about my motives for painting. The graffiti says “We walk by faith, not by sight.” The model is the unattainable beauty of “perfect” painting. The landscape is the urban jungle that is the world that I inhabit every day. Faith is what I need to traverse the distance between the hope and the reality of being an oil painting artist. The wilderness is many faceted—uncertain prospects, an uncharted course, the complex art world, or even just the passage across that expanse of cheek between the nose and ear that always seem almost impossible to paint, no matter how many times I've done it.
So, I pick up my palette and keep traveling. Leave a comment and tell me how you keep going with your work.