Why Make Art?

June 29, 2017


For as long as I remember I've wanted to be an artist. I don't know why. I'm pretty sure I also wanted to be a cinematographer, clown or a fireman (firewoman?), so I'm not sure why art stuck and the other three got left behind with my childhood toys.

 

 



It's possibly because there were heaters and coffee in the art classrooms, but also the art room at highschool was the first place where I felt like I belonged. I'm not sure what drove me to make art back then.

I've always been interested in the relationship between politics and art. Never more so then when I was at uni studying International Relations and Painting. I always imagined that my own work would carry a punchy social comment or subtle satirical message. I imagined large dramatically lit baroque style canvases recreated with modern political leaders telling a story about history repeating itself, but I never went down that path. And it's not because I have a lack of things to say or comment on. Historically art has been used to convey messages, stories, propaganda and I've always loved this about art.  This is why some people make art. It's just not why I do. Not at the moment anyway.

I have been asked many times "why paint flowers?" and over time I would say I've been crafting a response, but I don't think I really know why I started and I think this is why I still get stuck answering this question. 

 

 



Sometimes I dread going to art galleries with other people. Because I've studied and taught art, occasionally people think I'm going to be a wealth of information. I'm not. I taught my boyfriend to recognise Caravaggio paintings by looking for the wildly gesticulating Italians. "Just imagine you're at one of our family dinners- look for the people talking with their hands". (note to my family- I LOVE our family dinners, this is not an insult.. just an observation that we talk with our hands. a lot.) You won't find this method in a textbook... The truth is I like to go into galleries and just stare at works. I like daydreaming about the reasons behind their creation.  I get bored reading panels of information, though I usually find the ones aimed at kids quite fun. Sometimes I think I should just make stuff up when people ask, but I'm a pretty shitty liar and I’m really bad at making up stories.  


My work largely has followed my interest in capturing texture and light, in playing with scale. This can be hard to explain when people are looking for a reason.  For the last two years I have painted flowers, and through this process I have become more aware of the ecological and economic impact of buying cut flowers, but if I'm honest I didn't choose to paint them for this reason.
 

 


When I started I was in a work, sleep, eat cycle that didn't really leave me any room to stop and smell the roses much less paint them. After quitting my job I think painting flowers became a kind of escapism: Is this why I make art?

When my work was being sent to its new homes last year I felt happy. Not just because they had sold, (though let’s be honest that part is always nice), but happy that my work would be bringing something to other people . Maybe it is now giving someone else something to daydream about.
 

Maybe this is why I currently make art?  I’m not sure. I'm not sure I need to.

 

Why do you do what you do?

 

 

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©2017 by Julie Battisti.  New Zealand

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