Why I paint what I paint.

I look at the work of lot of indigenous artists, those long gone, those mid career, successful or not, and the many many emerging artists. I can’t even tell you all their names (memory is my weak point as my children will tell you!!! Names don’t seem to leave a mark, but what I see does).
I love the work of the desert artists, their colour and their history tell such amazing tales.
I love the work of many artists (not just indigenous of course), and have been pondering what makes someone buy a particular piece, and how much are people willing to pay for it.
Your work is only worth (in monetary terms) what someone will pay, really, at the end of the day.
I don’t paint traditional stories, as I was not told them by my mother or grandmother. I don’t even know if my grandmother was told them herself. My grandmother told us ghost stories about things and people she knew and superstitious beliefs that would scare the pants off you… nothing to do of course with telling us them when we are outside in the dark yard, barely a street light on…teh weight of all the stars in the great expanse of sky, as the main source of light…. you could just make out where we sitting… on chairs in a circle, or on the old shearers beds…. its too hot and too small to sit inside her corrugated iron house….
oh and she taught us some words, mainly body parts, in her language…
I don’t paint political themes, as I can barely understand the story myself. I have opinions, but I usually keep them to myself as my opinions are only based on what I read fleetingly, or see or hear… I don’t research or belong to anything to create such a political passion in myself. That doesn’t even make sense to me, so good luck with that.
I sometimes have to ask myself…what is your passion? What do you really think? Feel? Why do you paint what you paint? Why don’t you paint more statements? Politics? Causes? Belief? If you were to die tomorrow, what do you want people to remember you by, or your art by?
I come from a low-middle income upbringing. But we never went without. We never went on beach holidays, had fancy things etc as children. But we never went without.
Our holidays were going back to Goodooga, where we could roam and play with our cousins and friends, in the dust, the river, the cemetery, wherever…. or when it was just too hot… laying under verandas in our togs (swimwear) with towels drenched in rain or river water.. trying to find a breeze in 45-50C heat…you could not find 4 more excited kids that night before we would leave… trying to get to sleep and waiting for that shake of the shoulder in the middle of the night from Mum…”its time to go to Goodooga”… I will never forget that shake!!!!
From one income, one car, housing commission home after moving around renting (I was in 3 schools in 3 years)… but we never went without.
As a young adult, married woman, young mum.. I certainly didn’t do without material things, or love for that matter.
Fastforward to the emerging stages of my “canvas” art career ( as I always did something..but painting on canvas started briefly around 2003/4)…. and then to 2005/6/7 when the downward spiral of mental health, traumatic personal stuff, marriage breakup and the resettlement of my kids into a new home and new lifestyle… having to retrain to find work that suited the kids school hours etc…with money so tight and dependent on welfare, child support and what little I could earn even though my hours were long….not a lot of art work then…
But we never went without… (I could make 3 sausages last 3 of us for 3 days by adding different ingredients each night)…
What didn’t we do without? Love. Hope. The sense of family. That tomorrow is a new day. The knowledge (however selfish it sounds), that there are people worse off, so get on with it, get over it, and go for it.
I don’t know if thats what I paint. I hope to paint from a place of love, of peace, or hope for a better day, of thankfulness and graciousness of what I have.
Whether its a painting of a sunset… its something I saw and at that moment, I felt peace and love….
… or its is a painting that looks like a jumble of dots and pretty patterns… well in my mind, I was happy, hopeful, and grateful.
Really bad stuff happens to really good people… People leave your life for lots of reasons, and sometimes its so not fair (yes sometimes its welcomed!!!)… Life is not always fair, and I don’t know what I can do about it sometimes (if anything). I wish I had the passion and the drive to join causes, to fight for the rights of XYZ…. (after all, they are always last)… but I don’t… maybe I am self absorbed, maybe I am lazy, or maybe I just hope that I can support the people who are the brave fighters, by just providing them with love, hope, peace, a friend, and a piece of art that they can look at and think those things too.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for helping me work through my own question to myself… Wendy, why do you paint, what you paint?