Why I paint

“What did you do a as a child that created timelessness, that made you forget time? There lies the myth to live by.”
-Joseph Campbell

I always knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up but there was very little encouragement to guide me on that path. It took until my 40s to finally get around to pursuing art after years of suppressing the urge to create. When I was in my 20s, I worked a string of dead-end jobs until I landed as a user experience designer at the dawn of the World Wide Web. I did that for about 15 years.

To be fair, my design career was okay and somewhat rewarding and then suddenly it wasn’t. The grind of it caused me a lot of pain and suffering and left me with chronic shoulder and wrist issues that I still have to manage. Mentally, it made me anxious, and I felt like it was sucking out my life force and I was depressed. My body was telling me something, but I just ignored the signs. It wasn’t until I lost a few people that were dear to me that made me think that life is just too short to spend time doing things that didn’t bring me joy.

While cleaning out my mother’s house after she passed, I stumbled upon old photo albums that I haven’t looked at in a very long time. I ended up spending a whole afternoon looking through the photos as well as many old handmade cards that I had made for my mother.

I found a photo of me about age 7 sitting at the kitchen table with some watercolors and paper and a look of concentration on my face. I remember saying to myself that I want that feeling again. That feeling of wonder when I mix some colors together to see how it would turn out. The feeling of just trying to paint a subject I never painted before. I wanted to explore and have a sense of accomplishment. That’s something one rarely gets in a typical 9-to-5 existence.

I remember hearing about the concept of flow and reading books about it to gain that experience again. I tried collage, creative writing and other things like exercise to find flow again, but nothing hit the mark.

I always loved going to art museums and galleries but never felt I could be a painter myself. Even though I had a box of old acrylics laying around from a color theory class, I never thought to use them to create a painting. It took going to an open studio night at SOWA and meeting an artist there who taught acrylic painting workshops that gave me the idea to finally put those paints to use. That was around 2009 and I have been painting ever since. I put in a lot of painting miles since and made a lot of crappy paintings using many different mediums before settling on oils because it better suits my direct painting or “alla prima” method. I feel at home now.

So why do I paint? I paint because I must. It is what gives my life purpose. If I can create something that conveys beauty to someone else, then all the better.