Why I Paint What I Paint (And Don’t Paint What I Don’t)

Why do I Paint

I Don’t Paint to Make a Political Statement

No I don’t paint to address social issues. Neither do I paint to make a political statement. First of all I do not understand politics so well. All I understand is politics divides people. In today’s world of allegations, counter allegations, media choreographed events and heavily opinionated individuals I just don’t know what the truth is. Today someone makes me believe in something strongly, only to find out the very next day that it was all propaganda. With my limited knowledge about the world it also becomes extremely difficult to make a judgement on what is real and what is not. As an artist I seek truth and freedom through my work. Hence I choose to remain at a safe distance from this world of falsehood.

I paint my surroundings. But people can always find political meaning in it.
I paint my surroundings. But people can always find political meaning in it.

Suppose a cosmic event turns me omniscient and under the heavy pressure of moral obligation (which all superheros seem to have) I paint to change the world. But who is going to listen to me? Millions of art works get created around the world everyday. Many of them even by well known artists and artists with superlative skills. If people have to listen to someone in all probabilities they would listen to those artists; not me. And then is anyone really listening? Today everyone only has something to say. Social media has made it much easier for people to just keep saying something. Everyone wants to be heard. In effect there is hardly anyone who listens. In conclusion the paintings I would be making to change the world would end up changing me into a grumpy painter, because no one would just listen to me. By the way are you still listening to me!!

Irrespective of what I have said till now, it can so happen that I can still stand for something I fiercely believe in. And to bring about those changes I have two options. In the first one I take direct action to address the issue. For example to do my bit on environment I get a few friends together and we can have a tree planting drive. Not only we plant the trees, but we take care of it till it can stand on its own. Second option is to paint a masterpiece on climate change and hang it in a sophisticated air conditioned gallery under impressive lighting system and open to a packed house of art lovers and collectors. I am sure the second option would be far less effective to do my bit on environment. In fact all the air conditioning, lights, high end cars of the art lovers would have generated sufficient carbon footprint to offset whatever change my brilliant painting can bring about.

What About Finding My Own Voice!

spot the difference
Can you spot the difference? On top is a preserved fish in a natural history museum while at the bottom is a preserved fish that sold for millions as an art work.

But after all this blabbering they would still ask me the million dollar question. What about finding my own voice? What do they really mean when they say that? Is it being different from rest of the crew? Is it being original? But I really can not do it for the sake of it. Inventing something for the sake of it and hoping that it works is not going to work at all. That is more like style for style sake. It is the pursuit of excellence that is objective and something real. To be able to produce highest quality of work (irrespective of the subject) while working with lot of freedom and heightened sense of inner and outer perception is something that I pursue (Btw freedom is not about moving brush aimlessly on the canvas). And in that journey somewhere I hope I find my voice. And then lose it until I find a new voice. Finding my voice or developing my style is going to be just incidental. And it is also not going to be constant. It will always be work in progress. It will always be evolving. I can not get trapped in it.

In case you are wondering what this is I’ll surprise you by saying that this is a painting titled Blood Red Mirror which also sold for millions

Human beings are meaning making machines. They will find meaning where there is absolutely no hint of it. And when people find their meaning in being at a higher intellectual plane than their counterparts then they can stoop to the lowest level of pretension. A flat red canvas or a stuffed animal meant for natural history museum can sell for millions. As a person my idea of life’s journey is to go beyond judgement and assumptions that create such meanings. Its a journey based on observation and active listening of the without and the within. It is a journey to understand as things are and not as we assume them to be. That is how I believe I can go close to Truth and Freedom.

Why I paint (What I paint)

The joy experienced in painting with freedom stemming from skill is sometimes also felt by others
The joy experienced in painting with freedom stemming from pursuit of excellence is sometimes also felt by others

In case you have made it till here I would disappoint you now by saying that the above outburst may be completely unnecessary to understand why I paint what I paint. I paint landscapes, nature, animals, birds, humans, faces, figures, scenes from everyday life, things in my immediate surrounding because I just like to paint them. That is it. Direct interaction with nature and life around me is what inspires and motivates me to paint. That is the person who I am. For me being authentic is originality and if I persevere long enough with my authenticity it would eventually seep through into your work.

By painting what I paint I do get to see myself in a mirror. My work not only tells me who I am it also tells me who I can be. It tells me about a better self that I can become. May be the act of painting becomes independent of the subject someday. May be by painting something else I still would get to see the proverbial mirror. But probably it would be devoid of the joy I experience. And living without joy is something that is very hard for me to afford.

Enough said as of now. I’ll probably be singing a new song tomorrow as my worldview broadens. Tomorrow probably I’ll be laughing at what I have written now (Not that I am not smiling right now). But as of now I got to ‘Shut Up and Paint’.

shut up and paint meme by Milind Mulick
Shut up and paint meme by watercolor master Mr Milind Mulick