Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why I Paint What I Paint

Recent conversations with some artist friends about inspiration, styles and methods ignited my own questions personally about why I paint what I do and what prompts my choices of subjects, painting sizes and so on. So I figured I'd post about it, mainly just thinking out loud, but also in case anyone ever wonders. ;-)
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - As Long as Life Lasts - soft pastels on Ampersand Pastelbord 8" x 10"
I used to think I just painted things I thought were pretty and used whatever surfaces I had available. But on deeper inspection, I realized I do consciously and purposefully select not only my specific subject matter but also the specific sizes and surfaces I use, and it’s become clear to me that it’s much more than just random choices.
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Give Peace a Chance - soft pastels on Richeson Premium Board 8" x 10"
With regard to the sizes of my works, they are small. Some artists would even call them “minis”, as I tend to be most comfortable painting in the 4x6 to 9x12 range. I used to think the main reason for that was due simply to ease of storage of smaller works, especially those requiring glass when framing like the pastels I do. Or the reduced intimidation factor of a smaller surface. But on really thinking about it, I believe there is more to it than that. I’ve always watched in dismay as our society has focused so much on the “more, more, MORE” and “bigger is better” mindset. Perhaps my resistance to “painting bigger” has something to do with wanting to show that small things have meaning too and can even be quite intricate, even though they are often overlooked in the never-ending societal quest for More.
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - For the Love of Nature - soft pastels on Pastel Premier Paper 5" x 5"
Subject matter is another issue that on first glance belies its deeper meaning. Yes, I paint pastoral landscapes, a seemingly benign and typical subject. But on closer inspection, you’ll notice it’s very rare to see any architecture or manmade structures in my works, and rarer still to find any human figures in them, if at all. That is not by accident. Although I’m not na├»ve nor jaded, and I do believe the world is full of kind, compassionate and wonderful people, all one has to do is watch five minutes of world news to see what a heart of darkness so many of our species have toward one another, animals, and even the earth itself. My landscapes are painted as an homage to Mother Nature and envision a world sans the destructive forces of man, with scenes welcoming the viewer in as the first one to see them. These are quiet works, speaking with more of a whisper than a shout. There seems to be so much noise in the world already, with everyone and everything screaming constantly, so I find that I’m drawn to paint a quieter, softer, calmer world, the kind of world I want to see.  
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Windows of My Soul - soft pastels on Canson Mi-Tientes Paper 8" x 10"
And on that note, I’ll leave things with one of my favorite quotes from the immortal Bob Ross who best stated my overall purpose in painting: "That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it."
© 2015 Tammy Kaufman - Lost in the Melody- soft pastels on Richeson Premium Board 9" x 12"