thoughts on the maker and their art

 |  October 4, 2009

My friend and talented artist Patricia Anders posted this exercise and questions on her blog. This is a great exercise for us creative types and I challenge you to open up your journals and attempt to answer her questions and really try to see your work with a stranger’s eyes. I did it myself and if you would like, I invite you to post your thoughts on your own blog and share a link here. Or keep it private in your own written journal. The important thing is to take the time to do it.

Here is Patricia’s exercise:

Look at the work you have currently hanging on your studio wall or work space or in progress on your easel or your work table and pretend that you are someone else. Someone who does not know you and imagine what they might think of the artist who created it. Write those things down and keep them for yourself, to help you determine whether what you are creating is tied in with who you are or what you want to say or express. Post your thoughts.

Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true? Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently? Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are? Is the work you did ten years ago different? have you matured artistically or just improved your skills? Is there a difference? Is the content or the media the same?

visual journal entry

My answer above, typed out:
I can’t really look at my work in progress to answer the first question as I don’t have any paintings in progress at the moment. But I can do it by looking at my past work- and I have asked myself these questions before to help me with my artist statements to hone in on my vision, and just to keep that dialogue open with myself.

But if I were to imagine myself looking at my work with a stranger’s eyes, I would imagine the artist to be someone who is calm, introspective, reserved. Someone who sees the beauty in the simples lines of nature. I would probably imagine her to live somewhere peaceful and nature-filled, not in an urban setting! I would also think that while the artist is attuned to her spiritual/emotional side, that she works very deliberately. Not very spontaneous. Definitely sees things in a concrete manner. Controlled.

That was hard because I know myself and my work very well! Tried not to cheat and remain objective though. 🙂

I think that the statement : “You can tell a lot about a person by the art they they make” does have some truth to it. Art can reveal a lot about the artist behind the work…but not necessarily be definitive. The art can reveal an aspect of who the artis is, or even what they long for. Creating art is such an intimate act- it just HAS to reveal something about the Maker. I don’t see how it cannnot. A lot of people tell me that they feel a sense of calm and peacefulness in my work…which is funny because I often feel very agitated/anxious inside! But I know that I am able to tap into that peace when I paint, so it is there. Or at least I hope so.

I can think of 2 artists that I know personally whose works reflects themselves- Angela Wales Rockett and Sue Robertson. I won’t go into the details, but if you know them you can see how their work both really reflects them, or at least, how I perceive them. I have also met artists who are so different from what I would imagine they would be like in person having seen their work first. But, really, I think that the part of them that might not be visible on the surface of daily life, is a huge part of who they are if it’s coming out on canvas.

I wasn’t painting 10 years ago, so yeah my work has definitely changed since then! I began creating in 2002 when we moved to Seattle and my work has definitely changed and matured since then. I think it’s a combination of maturing artistically, improving my skills, and gaining more life experiences to draw from. Some of the content is the same-trees,birds (I have work from high school art classes with those symbols)….but I have expanded from that a bit. Plus I’ve been working on developing my personal symbols and marks. I started working in encaustics in 2005 and I feel like that that medium is my “calling”, so to speak. I love working in it and I feel that it best epresses what I aim to achieve. Developing my skills and honing my visual language in that medium has been key in my artistic development.

It is important to do this exercise because right now I feel like I’m in transition again-artistically and in my personal life. I am wanting to delve deeper into personal meaning, while at the same time loosening up on the canvas. I find myself increasingly attracted to abstracts, but not sure if I am ready to go there. I am too concrete, I think. At least right now I am. Not sure what lies ahead of me though with all the life changes ahead… but I haved learned that when there is desire and a will, there is a way.

{Just added this part as I wrote this blog post, as it’s been on my mind lately}
I still feel like just a babe in this art journey of mine and I am excited to keep moving forward. mmmm, maybe I’m a toddler now…My point is that it may not be at the pace I would like it to be because I am a mother of a little one and have another on the way and I made the decision to focus on my family right now, but I can do what I can. Paint and create because I must, and just keep going forward.


  1. by Wild Somerset Child on October 4, 2009  3:59 pm Reply

    Bridgette, this is such a moving post. I think no matter where we are on life's journey, we always mentally torture ourselves, physically, emotionally and as an 'art-maker' (or writer). And over the last few years I have come to observe that it is the creative ones who continually question their motivation - and how fortunate to have a state of mind that CAN assess, even when we are afraid of where we are, rather than just existing from day to day.

    And I truly believe that we live by the seasons and that our minds and bodies react more to the natural world than to dates on a calendar. With fond regards, Ann from UK

  2. by Jeane on October 5, 2009  1:54 am Reply

    interesting concept - enjoyed reading your response :)

  3. by layers on October 5, 2009  11:49 am Reply

    If the artist is painting or working for themselves first-- and painting what they know about themselves than their work should definitely reveal aspects of the artist--their nature.
    I know I have been through a lot of transitions over the years as I continue the search for what I like and want in my work.

  4. by merci33 on October 5, 2009  5:41 pm Reply

    I adore reading this post and it brings to mind a quote from Picasso regarding every work being a self portrait...even this post conjurs for me a self portrait as you craft the words, the issues, the curious world of being an artist and the 'what's it all about Alfie?' aspects of putting our marks on the page and taking our lines for a walk.

    Years ago I attended an arts lecture where the artist spoke of the 'three main themes' of all of his work over the decades...and I began to pay attention and noticed that yes there is a return and a return to that which resonates in the the trees and the birds that you bring to us.

    And now your work turns to creating a child and you may not be painting as much and yet you are the artist who sees the beauty everywhere you turn and the babe in the womb is absorbing this pulse and will create through the eyes of the artist... thanks to you.
    thanks for such a beautiful thought provoking share.

  5. by Seth on October 7, 2009  12:19 am Reply

    Thanks for highlighting Patricia's exercise and for sharing your own answer. Stepping outside oneself to do this is difficult but you seem to have been well able to do so. And, I might add, I think your ability for instrospection is truly reflected in the nature of your artwork!

  6. by thewillowsnest on October 7, 2009  1:48 pm Reply

    Lovely thought provoking post!
    Always tricky to stand outside and look in ...but eternally beneficial!

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