Having just read Patti Smith’s touching memoir, “Just Kids,” about her early years with Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1960s and 1970s, I was interested to see that even artists as committed as they were (enduring poverty and hunger to make art) sometimes doubt the point and value of what they are doing. They also struggled with the tension between painting for yourself and for the joy of creating versus painting for your viewers. And apparently viewers are essential. If no one sees it, is it art? Is enjoying doing it sufficient justification for all the time and money one spends on it? Is enjoying doing it sufficient justification for the loss of other experiences one passes up? Or something more worthwhile one could be doing?
And I guess all artists hope to create something original and breathtaking, something that makes a positive difference in the world. Is that too grandiose? Is cheering up one person enough of a positive difference? Maybe cheering up oneself by painting is enough. I do know that when I am prevented from painting for a month or two by life events, I get quite crabby.