A few weeks ago I discovered a book that changed my perspective about my painting. Written by Rolina van Vliet and entitled "The Art of Abstract Painting", this book actually made me feel less foolish about my artistic endeavors. It gave me some credibility as an artist! The artist was able to clarify for me what I have been doing. She writes about how the realistic painter is using external information to guide the painting. Things from the outside influence the painter's work. An abstract painter, on the other hand, uses the same elements as the representational painter (shape, color, and line, for example) but the abstract painter's art is not meant to represent "something". The art comes from the painter's imagination and feeling; there is no relationship with reality. Bingo! The light went on!
When formerly I saw myself as a second class painter (just messing with paints), now I see myself as creating something, not merely copying something that is already out there in the world. I like it when someone looks at my painting and sees something in it. That's fun and I am always interested. But I don't generally expect that kind of reaction. Sometimes, I know exactly what it is I am putting down on paper (although no one else may be able to recognize it) and I keep it a secret just because I can. I don't paint for an audience; I paint for myself. It gives me so much to think about (or not think about).