The Soul of an Artist

Published August 8, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

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.

At Eternity's Gate by Vincent Van Gogh 1890

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?


3 comments on “The Soul of an Artist

  • That painting with the palm trees is incredible, Caitlin. I’m all over it (well, all over it over the net).

    As for the topic itself, I can’t help but think that the soul-pouring is what makes art what it is. Yes, there is technique involved in creation, but the art that stays with us has a little thing… more.

    When you paint or write, you draw from what you are. Your life will influence the mood, even if you try to keep it out, and I actually think that’s a good thing.

  • Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: