Why Do You Paint?

I’ve been asked, “Why do you paint?” Sometimes people ask, “why do you create?” I’ve always answered, “I can’t not create.” But, I think there’s more to it. I think I’ve been holding back from my collectors, students, and people in general. 

I’ve been thinking about so many things this past year. Thinking about our world situation and watching the news has sapped my energy and made me feel like a panicked mess. I haven’t wanted  to think about art, let alone paint.

I played some with some of my old favorite tools and mediums, and signed up for some online classes that were not me at all. I wanted something to drive me forward and help me back to making art even if I wasn’t really feeling these new classes. 

I started thinking about my students and how much I missed them. So, I taught myself how to create virtual classes on Zoom. I pushed myself to build content to engage and inspire my students. I took a few more classes and fell back in love with watercolor. I created more content and lessons that I could launch online for groups of people. I felt that even though we couldn’t be together in person, I could still offer my students good quality classes.

But what about me? What got me creating? What did all those classes do to get me going? And, why am I still feeling I’ve lost my way?

Loss is the thing here, and I think that we are feeling a sense of  loss. What does loss have to do with creating and making art that I felt I can’t do? Loss is wrapped in grief, but I hadn’t learned that until a few years ago when our family was hit by two deaths within two months. This loss knocked me for a loop. It took me deep into grief and a long while to get back to making art. 

When I finally returned to painting, it was because I took a class. It was just a class. I didn’t create anything significant from that class, but I made some messes and it fired me up. 

Creating and making art that I loved again was what helped me to move through the grief and panic attacks. I found an art therapist to work with who calmed me, and I was making art again.

Art can heal the soul and body. I am living proof. Back in June, I was in an auto accident that should have killed both my daughter and me. But we lived, and although I still have some pain, I go back to art-making and they recede. Our bodies are amazing, and I am grateful to be able to make art as a way to heal.

Why do I make art? Why do I create? Because if I didn’t I’d be a much grumpier person. Art brings me healing and joy. It is also so engaging. I have gone without making art in the past and I just can’t do that. Art brings me joy when I get to talk to my students and collectors about art. I am so grateful for all the teachers and classes that I have taken. They have supported me in ways they might not know, and I hope that I, too,  support my students in ways that are helpful to them.


Why do you make art? Why do you create? I hope you know what it does for you. I hope that when you ask yourself, “why do I make art?” you will be able to state it loud and clear. Go make art for whatever reason and enjoy your personal journey. 


  1. Liz says:

    Dear Aleta: Thank you for sending me this post. I have experienced many losses over the past decade and understand how you feel. I am currently doing just as you are and taking an online acrylic impressionist class. It is nice to be back, it grounds me and brings me home to my true self. So sorry to hear of your accident. I hope you heal soon. Thank you again for your inspiring work and for sharing your feelings.

  2. Laura Bray says:

    What a beautiful post Aleta. I make art because it’s a basic human function-like eating or sleeping for me. Like you, I’ve found it’s the best way to crawl out of grief and worry. I love the piece at the top of this post. Keep showing up!

  3. Sylvia Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing Aleta. I have been affected also by the COVID pandemic strain of life, the new way of life created by the passing of my husband 4 years ago, and just last week the passing of my younger brother. My focus art wise is very difficult. If I can just get the “fog” out of my brain and start something, it usually takes me away from negativity and a few hours of bliss go by. I’m praying and meditating daily that the art impulse will again enter my soul.

    I’ve especially enjoyed seeing Chris Cozen’s, Jo Toye’s and your work as it is so different than mine and gives me a new base to start from.

    Again, thanks for the inspiration, Sylvia


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