Art: What's the point?

Art- What's the point
Art- What's the point
It’s good to be dumb. It allows us to love for no reason.

Natalie Goldberg

If there is one thing that holds me back from freely expressing my creative spirit through the watercolours that I adore and the words that I play with, it’s that inner voice that pipes up nearly every time I sit down to create.

It simply asks,

“But what’s the point?”

And I have to admit, it’s a good question. What is the point of creating another watercolour seascape of the view from the back deck or the mountains that surround me?

Is there a really good reason to take time away from the kids, who are hungry and want lunch, to paint that beautiful lavender-purple flower growing wildly at the bottom of the garden?

What is my good reason to invest time and, most important of all, money, to get the right tube of colour for my painting of the spring blossoms on the peach tree by the back door?

How do I justify sitting in the mid-morning sunshine, writing my private thoughts in my journal, when they’re not the makings of a blog or magazine article?

Perhaps enjoyment of the activity is not a good enough reason, and neither is personal pleasure.

Or is “making money” the only good reason to do things like painting, drawing or make art in other forms?

The voice that keeps asking “what’s the point?” isn’t my inner critic. It’s my logical mind that’s been trained to think in terms of money and time and other practicalities. It’s the voice of reason, some would say. It’s the voice of “time is money” and all that.

Just yesterday, my four year old daughter, Gabby, was playing outside in the garden. She collected flowers from all over the garden and the forest that borders on us, and every now and again, she would bring me a flower and I would sketch it in my journal using a selection of charcoal and graphite pencils.

Not once did she ask me why I was sketching these flowers. She could accept that I appreciated their beauty as much as she did and that was enough reason to be doing anything with them.

Then she called me over to see her art, which consisted of decorating a small tree outside the kitchen window. She’d strung up all the little flowers that she’d collected on this tree, and it looked lovely, which I told her.

But I asked her, “Why did you decide to decorate the tree?”

Gabby looked at me, confused, like she didn’t understand the question, shrugged, and ran off to find more flowers.

And that’s when I got it. Of course she didn’t understand the question. The idea that there had to be a reason -a good one - that you can use to justify to others why you’re doing something that gives you pleasure, didn’t occur to her. She just played and created because it was a natural expression of herself.

And that’s how I want to answer the inner voice of reason when it asks me why I want to watercolour when I’m not planning on selling the picture, or why I want to write when it’s not for my newsletter or for another publication.

I want to simply shrug and run off to play with more colours and words.

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