How To Create Meaningful Paintings – EP 264

Every artist wants to produce meaningful work. Yet the pressure to constantly do so can be an ironic obstacle to creating art that is meaningful. I want to help alleviate that pressure by showing you that meaningful work doesn’t always need to make a big statement. On this episode, I’ll dive into why that is, how to create our own meaning, and why you might be painting for the wrong people.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] The artist’s unnecessary burden
  • [4:37] Appreciating the small moments
  • [10:00] Being the source of your own meaning
  • [18:00] Painting for your people and not your critics
  • [21:10] Listening to your voice

Identifying negative thinking

Art is about making sense of what it means to be human and then sharing that with the world. It’s all about connection. Artists want to create meaningful work. They want their work to make an impact and help people feel things or stir their thoughts. However, it’s easy for artists to feel like they have to say something deep or revolutionary all the time with their work. Even though that’s an impossible feat to achieve with every painting, so many of us artists cling to the idea that everything we paint needs to be IMPORTANT. One of the reasons we hold on to this so tightly is because our brains get stuck in black and white thinking. We automatically assume that just because one of our paintings doesn’t have a gigantic meaning, the painting itself is meaningless. What a terrible thought!

Connecting the dots

All art is important. The problem is we think that “important” is measured by whether or not our art makes a big statement. We rely on lightning bolt moments for our work to be filled with deep emotional meaning, and when they don’t happen, we assume whatever ends up on the canvas is less valuable. That’s a total lie! The truth is, art happens in the small moments. It is the culmination of every small step we take in our art practice that creates meaning in our work. For me, art is a life-long love letter to myself. For you, it may be something different. We find the answer when we take the time to appreciate the small moments and connect the dots of our art journey.

Finding meaning in the mundane

Have you ever gotten lost in the background of a painting? Some of the deepest paintings I’ve ever experienced pay great attention to the mundane details. It’s those details that captivate us and allow us to tell our own stories in the deep green of a forest or the crystal blue of a beautiful seascape. Similarly, it’s in the mundane that we experience life’s most memorable and precious moments. It’s the lazy Sunday mornings and quiet cups of coffee at sunrise that color our world. We miss the joy in our painting when we underestimate the small details while waiting for a big dramatic moment. That’s backwards! The big, dramatic statements actually come from the small, seemingly insignificant moments. Listen to this episode for more insight on creating meaningful paintings!

Resources Mentioned on this episode

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  • Spot on! Should be taught to every student at the beginning. Bc of you, I’m giving myself freedom to paint scenes that I’ve put off for years all bc of the reasons you discussed.

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