I was invited to attend an open studio class for watercolor today at the museum. I was very excited since I haven't really been able to do any classes since I took a watercolor class when my kids were in elementary school. The class consisted mainly of older women who were working on varies projects, one in oil, one in acrylic and 3 of them were working in watercolor. My girlfriend Marta told me to bring some work so the teacher could get a feel of where I was artistically. The teacher said she was going to save me for last since it would take longer. When I put up all of my small study pieces, which are posted here usually, she began to say that I had the technique down and what was I hoping to do now. I told her I would like to become looser in my style and not feel like I had to stick every detail into each piece. She said that art has to talk to you, that you have to feel something about the piece. That the viewer should know something about the artist by her paintings in order to want to buy it for their home. I think I agree with that, but what makes you or I feel something will be as different as each of us are. She said that she felt I was a good painter, had the techniques down but didn't show anything of myself in my paintings. She said I was an "illustrator", able to reproduce an image but that my paintings were kind of boring. She went on to make some other comments, all said nicely but the words still hit hard. Here I sat in front of all these women, who were now hugging their own paintings, being called on the carpet. I told her I was ready to make the next step in my art and she said you have to dig inside and figure out who you are and then say it. I think she believes that your subject matter reflects who you are and that each painting we do should have some deep physiological meaning. I tend to believe that if I am a good artist I should be able to make something ordinary and boring beautiful based on colors and shading etc. That everything doesn't have a deep seeded thought process just a good outcome. Anyway, needless to say it was a hard day but it was thought provoking. I have been thinking and thinking, chewing over all the things she said that continue to run through my mind. How do I show myself in my paintings? How do I tell a story with my art? Do I just reproduce images to spare myself rejection. Does every painting have to say something or can I just paint an orange to paint an orange? Is my mural business side reflecting on my personal art side? How do I take my art to that next level, is it going to be a painful, personal, soul searching journey? Interesting concepts, makes me think about how complex we really are. I paid for four classes, I will go and do the assignments and "dig deep" as she said, to find a voice ( I only have a week). I told her maybe I need therapy instead? As I sat that last hour I just had my paint brush out and started to just doodle paint to kill the time. I wasn't following a picture or a model just from my head. She asked what that meant to me and where was I going to take it? That my assignment was to take and paint something that reflects me? I would love to hear comments on this, do your paintings all say something about you? Do they carry deep meaning or do you paint what you see. When you are depressed do your paintings become dark? Do you think that maybe that is what separates the painters from the artists? Why did illustrator sound like a bad word?