Why do I Paint?

"i'll leave a light on for you" (encaustic on wood panel) Original SOLD, but prints available.

"i'll leave a light on for you" (encaustic on wood panel) Original SOLD, but prints available.

Someone asked me this question recently:  "Cathy, why do you paint?" And I blinked a few times in surprise then immediately felt a warm rush of respect for the person asking the question.  I wanted to hug them in gratitude for not asking "What do you paint?" or "Do you paint the beach? Or dogs -- people love their pets. You should totally paint dogs. Or cats." (if you are an artist, I have a feeling you understand).  I liked the question "Why do you paint?" and I think it is an answer worth sharing with you.

Why do I paint? I believe we all have an invisible world inside of us. It is a place of dreams, longing and brilliance. Yet, in our day to day lives, we almost never get the chance to share something so 'irrational' or 'childlike.'  I paint to access that invisible world -- to make the invisible visible -- not just for me but because honoring this invisible world may be the key to healing the one in front of us.

Have you ever felt misunderstood or unseen? Like you are speaking words which only barely scratch the surface of what you really want to say? Or like everyone wants you to talk in the language of committees and profit margins and definable goals to the point where you don't remember what you wanted to say awhile back.... after that great dream or when you saw the sign for the circus and felt your heart flip? And maybe this makes you feel a little lonely.  I have. And I paint because I want to feel less lonely.

The world I am painting is unseen, yet I can feel it. And I spend my days catching glimpses of it in the way light bends around a ferris wheel at day's end or the way trees look as you bike past them on a summer day. Color, form, light -- all of these are tools (often inadequate) to communicate the unsayable something that rises up in my chest to be spoken.

This is why I paint. And I need to remember this -- we all do -- as my inbox gets clogged with emails about creating an Etsy shop "on trend," or making sure my "lady business" is getting enough online exposure. I will continue to paint for these reasons, and I will, of course "leave a light on for you" if you care to wander through my world.