Monday, March 4, 2013

Why We Paint

Posted by Maggie

Why we paint

Yesterday I was interviewed on film by Barbara Lohbeck,  the director of Masterworks New Mexico.  I will be judging  the standard division artwork, which is juried into the exhibition by three jurors. Each must be a member of a society, the Pastel Society of New Mexico, the New Mexico Watercolor Society, or the Rio Grande Art Association. (For those who can visit, the show is open April 5-27, Tuesday-Sunday 10-5 weekly. Information about the reception will be at

One of the questions Barbara asked is why I might choose to paint a certain subject.  I woke thinking about it in the middle of the night.  

I have long wondered about why the first painters painted.  We have all seen reproductions of the cave paintings in France.  The easy answer is, it was informational.

But below that, I think, is self awareness.

The painter looked at his or her hand and used its mark to indicate his relationship to the world at that moment in time.  Continuing further, he added in his relationship with the deer, which referenced its relationship with him and both places in the world.

In the end, isn't that all we paint?

The subject of this painting, Morning, Heading North, is in an area north of Albuquerque just a few miles north of where Georgia O'Keeffe lived.  It's about two hours from home, so it is a frequent first stop anytime we're heading north. We've painted plein air many times and I've taken thousands of photos.

But what this is about is a moment in time when I was there. This is how I saw it.  This is how it felt.

Why do you paint?