Why I Paint – Betsy Cole
One of the most fascinating discoveries I’ve made as an artist is realizing just how much needed to be unlearned. To be sure, one must grapple with the history and techniques of art — but the real challenge for me has been undoing my rigid ways of seeing the world through fear and judgment and rediscovering long-lost joy.
That may sound rather cliché, for in art (as in life) each of us strives for a bit of originality, but for me, it has been a wonder, perhaps an epiphany, to discover at the innermost part of myself there wasn't emptiness or dread, but a genuine curiosity that soon had me eager to travel and explore. I began to take risks — and enjoy them.
It was in Bali where I began to understand what this meant for my art and life. I gained confidence and discovered that art is really play. Painting need not necessarily depict a “thing,” but can actually become a “dance of color” that expresses how I feel.
I once saw a de Kooning exhibit of his most famous paintings and was most drawn to the final simplistic pieces that he created after the onset of Alzheimer’s. I was completely mesmerized because these loose lines of bright color were joyous and free, as if released from all influences, expectations and judgments. I wanted to paint from this place.
Art heals, and it does so by bringing the inside out. It’s certainly no great insight to say that life isn’t always easy — but art can bring light and joy and color to the darkness, the pain, the fear. As I began to untangle my life and view it as a journey, I allowed my love of bright colors to be expressed and to acquire a new healing purpose.