Everyone needs purpose to keep going, especially when your life has changed so completely. For me right now much of that purpose has a lot do with my paintings.
I have some religious-themed paintings that I have been working on for years. They are paintings that grew out of my mind so sometimes they are vague and incomplete. It takes time for these mental paintings to reveal the parts and pieces that should be in them.
As I paint, I refer to these two paintings as “process revelations.” Often painting from this perspective can be very frustrating, not to mention very time consuming.
Sometimes I have to turn these paintings toward the wall so I don’t see them for a while. Then when I turn them around again I get a fresh look at them and I can begin painting on them again. I often really have to push myself to get them done. I paint and then I paint over what I had. It often feels like I am painting in circles. Painting can be very exhausting and exciting at the same time. I can lose myself as I paint. It becomes a very good form of quiet meditation.
When I’m not working on the large religious paintings, I often spend time on what I call prayer paintings. These small works are a great break from the big paintings. Before my wife passed away, I had started painting several of these small 5-by-7 paintings. I would start and end them with prayers. For these paintings I chose peaceful scenes of nature as the main subject. These paintings are small enough that you can carry one with you and pull it out when you want to enjoy a few moments reflecting on the peace and beauty of nature. I am a great believer that scenic paintings are healing paintings, and I also believe that paintings that are accompanied with prayers can have an extra special place in one’s life.
I paint and I teach painting because I feel that the process can help us see life as it really is — interesting and beautiful. Painting helps us to see more and ultimately appreciate more of all that is around us, above us, beside us and under us. When you paint, you will no longer look at things the same way. You will truly see them.
The purpose of painting is not just to create something on canvas; it is to help you to see and learn through the process of painting.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.