It's that time of year again. I'm looking forward to it: When Judith Peters calls for a blog challenge, it gets exciting. She always chooses very personal topics; questions you can't just answer; you have to listen to yourself. Judith's challenges are always self-explorations.
This time, the theme of the challenge is: "Blog Your Purpose." It started on Tuesday. Mission: Find out what drives you. Time: 72 hours. On Friday, everyone will publish their blog post. More than 1,000 participants have signed up - and every single post will be different.
Purpose, what exactly is it? The dictionaries speak of goal, aim, destiny. But the term is not so easy to translate. It means so much more. Judith focuses the various facets of purpose on the question, "What do I want to achieve?"
Maybe I'm not there yet, but the question is already too purposeful for me. It is too outward looking for me (at the moment?).
I'm not asking what yet, but the why. Why do I do what I do? What is the common denominator, the core?
The sense of artistic creation
For me, art is not an end in itself. Why does a work of art take hold of us? Why can it stir something in us, touch us, even change us, while we may find a mass-produced poster from Ikea beautiful, but it has no other effect on us?
The artist is searching in its work. Art does not necessarily give answers, but it asks questions.
As viewers, we feel this.
Wanting to create something beautiful would also be a legitimate concern for artists. But that would be a superficial goal.
Much more exciting is: Why do you want to create something beautiful?
An artist might see that beauty eludes the fleeting gaze and want to draw attention to it. He or she may want to counter brokenness, pain, and suffering with something "healed". Or it may simply be a desire to share the beauty one experiences.
Friedrich Nietzsche said, "We have art so that we do not perish from the truth." True! For me, too, art has often been my salvation.
In difficult times, it has saved me from perishing from reality.
But I am also convinced that art itself transports truth, reality, realness.
At least it searches for it.
On the trail of the unknown
My art has changed and evolved over the years. Even the reason I paint is not always the same. I have painted for a good cause, to draw attention to problems; for my mental health; for the protection of the environment and species - I have painted to show the beauty of diversity; I have painted nudes to express attitude and intimacy; I have painted for social justice. I have painted figuratively and abstractly, representing and expressing.
When I look at my art, I ask myself: What is the bottom line?
Can I trace all these motivations of why I paint, what I paint, and how I paint back to a common purpose? Or simply ask: Is there a common thread in my paintings?
Which brings us back to the question of beauty.
Vulnerability & rebelliousness
On my Instagram-Account, I introduce myself as an artist inspired by imperfection. A wild meadow with scattered flowers fascinates me more than a perfect flower bed. I find a face that you can tell has laughed and cried more beautiful than flawless smoothness.
And just as I like a winding forest path better than a paved road, I find life's paths that aren't dead straight more interesting.
And so, in one way or another, my art is always about vulnerability. It acknowledges the wounds that occur in the course of a life. But it does not mourn them. It is about the - sometimes quiet, sometimes exuberant - rebelliousness to assert oneself and not give in, to accept oneself with all the wounds and grown "blemishes".
In essence, it is about not letting our wounds define us. We accept them and transform them - into something beautiful, into something good, into a fund from which we can draw.
Reclaiming lost paths
And the Why behind the Why? Why is this so important to me? It has to do with my childhood experiences. They have shaped my life for a long time, and some paths are closed to me forever. Because I simply can't make up for some of them. But others I have reclaimed - and also found completely new paths.
I still have to deal with bouts of self-doubt. With a lack of self-confidence and the feeling that I do not deserve success, love and happiness. But I fight. I never let these feelings get the better of me - at least not for a long time.
Stefan and my sons show me every day that I don't have to deserve their love. They gift it to me - from the bottom of their hearts. In their midst I can heal.
Now that I am aware of that: Can I now answer Judith's question?
What do I want to accomplish?
Do I want to make a difference? It's not my place to raise my finger and say, "Look. I've had this experience, now learn from it!" But if I can encourage just one person to accept and love themselves, then I have accomplished a lot.
With my art I want to say: see the beauty in the neglected, love the unloved, don't be ashamed of your hurts and your vulnerabilities. They make you more receptive, more empathetic to the wounds of others.
That's my approach.
How do you see it? Have you found your purpose?
What drives you, and where does it take you? I look forward to reading from you in the comments.
Join the newsletter now
and not miss a thing
Get exclusive insights into my creative processes, learn the stories behind my artwork
and receive invitations to my exhibitions and events.
To say thank you, I'll give you 10% off your first purchase.