Last week, I talked about storytelling in art and how an artist always leaves behind a piece of themselves and their emotions. I’m going to explore that a little bit today.
A few years ago, I had an acquaintance comment on the darkness in some of my paintings (like the one to the left). While the subjects were not inherently dark, I found the comment interesting because the paintings in question were done during my darkest period emotionally. Had I inadvertently poured my emotions into the paintings themselves, and was this person picking up on the residual traces? Or was he just crazy?
There is the classic tale of the young man who, so enraptured with his looks, sells his souls to be young and beautiful forever. His soul then resides in his portrait, growing more grotesque with age as the young man plunges into debauchery. I am of course referring to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. While I do not for one minute believe this has happened to me (or anyone else for that matter), it does bear a strange correlation to the saying that artists pour their heart and soul into their works. Are errant emotions then left behind? I think so.
This is evident in the works of Van Gogh. In his younger years, his painting were bright, vivid, hopeful. In later years, as he struggled with mental illness, his works became darker, stranger, and markedly more erratic.
So, what do you think? Do artists and writers leave behind a piece of themselves which each work?