Posted by: Michael Keller Woodcarving | August 24, 2010

Why Do YOU Make Art by Lori Woodward

Why Do you Make Art is an article originally appearing in Fine Art Views by Lori Woodward.  It appears here with Lori’s permission.  While this great article is focused on painting, it equally applies to wood carving/sculpture.   I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Why Do YOU Make Art by Lori Woodward

I’ve been re-reading some of my collection of books by Seth Godin. He’s the kind of author that writes about topics that make you think about the essentials of your existence and not just the “what?” and the “how?” of your work, but the “WHY?” More than a decade ago, Seth revolutionized the way the world markets products by writing about “permission marketing”. Not that the concept didn’t exist, but Seth pushed it to the forefront, and in my opinion, changed the world.

For the last week or so, I’ve been pondering a new series for blogs on Fine Art Views. My goal, as always, is to feed my fellow artists with encouragement, useful information, and sometimes… the plain hard truth about being a professional artist. Today, I’ll begin that new series and I can’t say just what path it will ultimately take because these articles are loosely defined in my mind. If I write a “set in stone” outline now, it will not lead to sharing the best of what I have. Just like my art career goals, my  writing paths need to stay somewhat fluid in order to take advantage of opportunities or ideas that crop up along the way.

Are You Making the Art That You Love?

So let’s get started: The first area that I’m pursuing and would like to present to you has, as I said, nothing to do with what you paint or make, or how you do it, but why you are an artist. What is the very reason you make art? I ask so that you’ll have a firm grasp of who you are from the get-go, that you’ll be able to accept your natural gifts and run with them, not being confused and led astray by what other artists are doing (even if they’re making a lot of money at it).

If you’re going to succeed as an artist, you’ll need to put an enormous amount of energy into that goal, so why not make the process totally relate to your unique personality, strengths and desires? Art is an expression of how we uniquely see the world – what we love and the expression of those things in a medium that can be shared with others. Quite often the result is that an artwork gets shared over the course of many generations. It’s not just about making a product. It’s so much more than that!

Art is the fruition of soulful gifts; not a tool or a commodity, it is almost immortal – having meaning beyond everyday life. It is not needed for survival. But none the less, it is welcomed and treasured.

Sometimes the most meaningful things are those that are not necessary. Is a sunset necessary? Can plants synthesize food with chlorophyll without the sunset’s beautiful array of colors? Can we get vitamin D in our skin without a rainbow? Yes, life would go on. But things like sunsets and rainbows are meaningful in a way that goes beyond our basic needs. These are the things that make pleasurable, vivid memories.

Art is special, it’s like whipped cream on warm chocolate pudding. It’s not essential, but what would life be like without it? Art, in all forms – music, paintings, dance, athletics, makes daily life palatable.

If you’re an Artist, then you have a calling

So what does all this have to do with you? If you are an artist – everything. For a moment, I’d like you to cut out all the marketing, clutter and noise, and think about why you are an artist and why you are inclined to make the particular kind of art you do. It’s important that you know the answer, otherwise you might get dragged off in a direction that will eventually frustrate you.

Just for a minute, shut out all the other voices and think about how you’re unique. What art subjects excite you? Are you currently working on something purely for other’s wants? Can you tell the difference? If you must paint commissions to make a living, that’s OK – all I’m asking is that you understand the difference between art that is generated from creative passion and work that is done only to satisfy the need to make a living. In many cases the two can be combined.

So let me end this blog here with 2 questions: Why are you an artist and why do you paint the subject matter and style that you do?



Lori Woodward is a regular contributing writer for FineArtViews, an art marketing newsletter . She is also a contributing editor for American Artist’s Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes “The Artist’s Life” blog on American Artists’ Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik.

Please visit my web site at

Keep sharp and be carveful!

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