Start with something to say

I just read an article over on The Art of Non-Conformity about having something to say. Chris Guillebeau mainly talks about writing, but it applies to art as well. What is your art saying? What is my art saying? Do I even have something to say? And something quality at that?

I think this concept is why I struggle with art. I always want to express myself, to use my emotional content and portray it on canvas. To use art for catharsis. But it never seems to work out. Or at least the quality is rarely there. It’s almost like my emotions are so wild that I can’t seem to put the details into it. Or maybe emotions just are ugly.

Woman releasing anger
Woman releasing anger
Energy - protecting oneself


Heart and Skull Flourish
Love and Death flourish

They all seem so out of control and I’m not sure that they portray my emotional intent as deeply as I want them to. Perhaps they are just so amateur and if I could just get better, than I would be able to exhibit emotions a bit more purely and intensely. Can you tell what it is I am trying to say? Do you feel the anger? The love? The Passion? I doubt it. But I feel with these paintings I had something I wanted to say…I’m just not that articulate I suppose. My default paintings are flowers. I feel like I have nothing to say when I paint flowers and that they are just kind of there and typical. Even my Ganesha is that way.

Purple flower on Green
Purple flower on Green



So yes, starting with something to say is a perfect start. And knowing that clearly is good too. I usually don’t have anything to say when I am playing around with my graphic design. I’m just trying to go for something “cool” and it rarely works out. So that is an amazing thought and one I appreciate and agree with. And then the next step is knowing how to say it and being articulate…that is a struggle. What do I have to say, and how do I say it in a way that is as intense as I want it to be?

Being free with art

It’s amazing the different approaches I take with art. Digitally I rely on Ctrl+Z and know that nothing is permanent. I can always erase something, do something over, try something and if I don’t like it I can easily change it. I get crazy and try so many different techniques. Basically, I don’t hold back.

Painting has been different though. I have trepidation when painting. I don’t want to be wasteful on canvas and paint so I want the piece to be good. I am constrained and small and tentative. I hesitate because I am afraid to make a mistake that I can’t fix. There is no Ctrl+Z in painting.

I was just working on a painting and someone pointed all this out to me. The painting was small and contained. Tempered by fear, no reflecting my true emotions at all.


He said there was no overlapping, no integration, no connection of any of the elements. And he was right. I was concerned about all the wrong things: staying in he lines, not wasting paint, trying to make a perfect line. All things that were taking away from the true nature of my self. With digital art I hardly even think about those things and am rarely constrained. So I took a deep breath and started to paint outside of the lines I had made for myself. Moved outside of my own box.


I started overlapping elements. Tried to be free with my brush. Tried to trust my first instinct. To flow like the water element I am. And at the end, while I was considering the differences between painting and digital art, it occurred to me one of my favorite things to include in my digital art is splatters. Splatters. I kind of chuckled to myself, got some paint on my fingers and tentatively flicked. By the time I was done I understood a bit more Pollocks joy in splattering paint on a canvas.