Things that are important* to me in painting
Aim to proceed with a devil-may-care work ethic. Cheerful and reckless, painting is an active investigation. I must invent processes and re-discover painting for myself all the time, figuring it out as I go in a leap of faith, expecting to arrive at something I find personally and intimately beautiful.
Let first-hand personal experience of aesthetic arrest be the true north that guides me. Make something to look at and know experientially -- not as a concept to be grasped. Let there be room for epiphany. Don’t give in to pressure to validate through explanation. Be generous. Do it in my own way.
Art is transcendent. Art’s highest good is as an outpost of freedom and happiness. I’m interested in art that makes me feel in love with the world. Artists have the ability and responsibility to nurture, challenge, and restore humanity to our best selves. Some have said that looking at my work makes them feel more free and I’d like to keep making that happen.
For me it is more about the music than the lyrics. There are recognizable objects in my paintings, but the subject matter (the “lyrics”) is not what primarily motivates me.
I strive to be virtuous in the ways that I share my work with the world. Part of being an artist is wrestling with what that means for each of us.
*About the word "important"
I want to be careful with the word “important." It’s common to hear a critic or curator use the word “important” to describe an artist or a work of art when what they really seem to talking about is influence, popularity, or cost. The arts are important to the survival of humanity, and they are so in spite of the art world’s obsession with status, money, and power -- not because of it. What the world needs more of is cultural offerings which inspire and strengthen humanity's more virtuous qualities like empathy, sensitivity to beauty, and love of life.
I make paintings that help me feel more at home in the world.
If I could choose a superpower, I would wave my hand and give everyone that kind of home, a safe place that beautifully reflects and amplifies the best of who they are and hope to become; where they can unguardedly be themselves, lay down to sleep in peace, and wake up feeling in love with the world.
For me, art is a beacon of goodness in this brief life in which we'll all inevitably encounter bouts of pain from time to time.
The cheerfulness of my art isn't a denial of this fact of life -- but an acknowledgement of it.
The arts are a very real comfort to me in the face of this truth, and for whatever light my art can bring into other lives I am grateful.
- Anne-Louise Ewen