What Am I? I am my Art.

Artist Jackson Pollock once said, “Every good painter paints what he is.” Coming from Jackson Pollock, that basically means he was a crazy yet organized disaster, and seeing as he was an angry drunk, I guess the theory is arguable.

Going off this theory (and going off the idea–let’s just say–that we are all “good” painters/artists), what does your art say about you?

Personally, as a writer, I’ve been told my writing is quirky. Which is good, because I’m kind of a quirky cat. But I’ve also heard my writing is serious when it’s supposed to be funny, and funny when it’s supposed to be serious. This got me thinking: if this is the flaw in my work–some of my best work–, perhaps it’s not a flaw within the design but rather a crack in the character. If so, it would suggest that, perhaps, Every good painter first knows who he or she is, and then paints it.

I know it’s working off the cliche, but I’m really starting to believe that an artist must know him or herself before he or she can truly paint or create in any measure. To paint who you are, you need to know yourself. You don’t need to psychoanalyze yourself, but you need to be frank with yourself and understand that you are imperfect. You are human. And as art imitates life, and vice versa, your art must, thus, suggest imperfection in order to reach its full potential. It’s twisted, but that’s the conclusion I’m coming to understand.

“Every good painter paints what he is.” (Or she is). If you are a disaster (like Pollock), perhaps you could get lucky. But I know plenty of people that don’t “get” Pollock’s work. They say it’s just a bunch of splatter.

But maybe, just maybe, if you start to really understand yourself, and craft yourself into who you want to be (without losing yourself; I’m not supporting falsity), you can start to make art that imitates the awesomeness that is You. Don’t change, but enhance. Don’t lose, but gain. Don’t feel down, just feel like you can be better. This shouldn’t be a negative idea; this should inspire both growth in yourself and growth in your work. And with any expansion, there will only be more to work with, not less, if you try to figure yourself out and paint the real you.

But these are just thoughts, and they could be wrong. I’m just trying to regard Pollock as an inspiration and someone, incidentally, who knows ‘what’s up.’ Again, I could be wrong.

Number 8, 1949– Jackson Pollock

-Riley Spellman

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