Art and Philosophy


"Keys" 22"x 30" watercolor on paper

I must admit to being a bit cautious about addressing the subject of the “what” and “why”  we paint (make art) for fear that some will hear accusation in my words. It is not my intent to devalue  anyone who invests their time and energy in making art. Or to set up opposing parties of realists vs. abstract, or what fruit painters vs. boat painters, chocolate vs vanilla, whatever!  It is my desire that everyone who makes art enjoy the process as fully as is possible and find the most free expression of their unique experience.

“Artistic” and “creative” are inexorably linked as ideas but not so much in practice. As ordinary humans who naturally seek approval and validation, doing the tried and proven is safe and appealing. On the other hand many evolved individuals encourage us to “leave the shore of security”, take the leap into the unknown, and make something that is unique and, perhaps even a little outrageous. So here we are, stuck between conformity and rebellion. And as we all know that is not always truly who we are or what is our honest endeavor.

The simple solution to this dilemma is to  be honest.  Do not feel compelled to go to either extreme of following tradition or to reinvent art.

The painting series that I am presently working on feature the most ordinary objects. I am exploring such everyday things with colors and values that simply “feel” right. The object itself may or may not be obviously represented. Or it may sort of hide and emerge, with only a suggestion of the physical thing informing the whole piece.   I just keep working with the subject until the whole painting  feels right to me.

You might want to try some of these ideas.

-Find a subject that you genuinely like and paint it so it does not look like anything you have ever seen.

-Pick an object you feel neutral towards and just mess around with different styles. Sometimes when we don’t have a strong feeling for something we are more free to take risks, we don’t feel attached to getting it “right.”

-Pick a subject you have a strong negative emotional response to and see where that takes you! Might unleash some bold decisions and expression!

-Paint a familiar subject and by applying numerous layers of paint cover the object so that only 10% is visible (no cheating).

– Make a painting that refers to something about a subject that is other than what it looks like ( i.e. what the subject sounds like, smells, feels, or tastes like.


  • Cathy

    Jan 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm Reply

    I have been (trying) to teach myself painting (watercolor) through books and get pulled back and forth between various styles. It’s very liberating to just paint until it feels right to me!

  • Skip Lawrence

    Jan 23, 2012 at 11:22 am Reply

    Dear Cathy, Is it not great to free oneself from dogma and rules. Good luck with your explorations and discoveries.



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