Well, if I feel the need to answer that question it indicates some sensitivity to begin with.
People who know me would understand right away, but when you are presenting and selling your artwork amongst a sea of artists who don't know you, and many of whom think they already know it all, it becomes a sensitive subject.
And thinking we already know it all, really is part of my subject matter, as much are cats and composition and color and jagged lines and crude geo-organic shapes, and this exactly is what I mean by content. My paintings are not just about cats, and the savvy and the pure will get this immediately. The worldly wise and the impure will not.
On the other hand, if you really don't understand, I could go on a long time about it because the why interests me, too. The why is at the core of something very basic to my soul, which is, a certain basicness, and it is in the pudding of what I believe good art should be.
Am I saying good art should be MSPaint? No. But what I am saying is that good art understands the connection between media and content. Saying what you are saying in a way that compliments the what of what you are saying. Good writers know this. All the great artists I admire know this, or it comes naturally to them, which gets back to sensibility, which I am always harping on, and which I also think is essential in good art, even more importantly in great art. It's even nicer in life.
There is a connection between media and subject and when you can identify it and the two become so intertwined they become married and identify with one another, it's a great accomplishment indeed. That's the challenge, no matter the media. There is a connection between how you make something within your chosen media and the style that emerges and what you have to say in general.
This is the jumping off point. After you have studied, whether you are self taught or you have been educated in art, it doesn't really matter, at some point you will have learned enough to want to stop studying as a full time endeavour and start using what you have learned to say something deep within your heart, that is, you will be ready to jump off, make the leap, try to marry your skills with meaning and subject.
But it is hard to explain, to put into words, which is why I guess some of us paint things we can't say. Still, though, challenging it is to try, and I love a good challenge. Especially when people think it is beneath them.
And that is part of it too. I love retrieving what people think is beneath them. Picking up the thing they think is not worthy of them. I hope to express my faith in humility with this, not my own, certainly, because humility is a great virtue I don't possess. But I believe it is deeply connected to beauty, and I believe in it, and it is something I work toward, and want to possess.
Does that mean I think one must draw crudely to express humility? No, but it is one way, and a way that appeals to me.
MSPaint is a simple and basic program even a child could use, but I don't think anyone with a huge ego would or could pick it up as a permanent media, because of the fear they might be immediately dismissed by the others they want to impress, which is where the wisdom of using it comes in for me. I don't want to impress people, and I don't want people who want or need to be impressed as my audience. That's important to me. It mirrors my faith, where we are instructed to be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents, where we are encouraged to care more what God thinks than what people think.
People who want to be impressed and to impress will not spread my message or get anything out of it. But for those struggling with it, I hope it is an encouragement.
Purity, simplicity, basicness, and yet, the depth of true beauty to explore, free to anyone, like the Gospel. I find this all in MSPaint.
We as artists really need to be able to say it all with whatever is available to us. Whether it is a complex studio or a piece of charcoal and a rock we have before us, to be able to say the truth about beauty still, is the challenge. Pretty is not the same as beautiful. Pretty would not describe my crucified Lord. But beautiful would, and there is nothing deeper I have discovered than this understanding of beauty to explore. There is also nothing more simple. It is, for me, the Pearl of Great Price.
Now I hope I don't sound like a know it all or didactic. But I have been doing this a long time, searching for that elusive thing I have found in all the artworks I love. It has been a life's work, so I do hope at this point I have something to say about it, and that I have some right now to speak with some conviction about it, without being obnoxious. I do hope this very much.
When I was young and used to dance, a crank caller, perhaps a pervert, yes, probably that, called up the dance studio where I studied, and one of the older girls picked up the phone. She was a natural. She was quite accomplished as well. He asked her if she had nice legs. I will never forget how surprised I was at her answer. So much so I have remembered it all these years. She said, "I hope so. I am a dancer."
Why MSPaint? I guess in the end the message I hope to get across is that beauty and truth are not exclusive. They are a part of and available to all of us to share in. Whether you are wise or whether you are simple, the truth, if it is not available to all of us, if its love excludes anyone, is not the truth. It's us who reject the truth, not the truth who reject us. We are not closed out, we close ourselves out.
There are other practical reasons I use MSPaint and why I choose this digital medium over finger painting or a pencil and paper, because those can be simple mediums, too. For one, all the cats in my house, for another cost of materials. But also because digital mediums are current, and yet MSPaint is one of the oldest and outdated. That's good for me. It's just when we are throwing something out that it peaks my interest and has my full attention. We live in a digital age. In order to make sense of simplicity in the current context, and make an impact, which I would like to do, I think showing we can still have this simplicity and explore this essence of beauty with something already thrown aside in this fast changing digital age is important, and also becomes part of the content of my work. Crudely though it might be understood now. The truth sails through the centuries. It toots its quiet horn no matter the era, and sometimes it even tears history in two. Truth is regenerative. It cannot die, no matter how much we turn our back on it or deny it or how complex we make our daily lives.
So I have touched on a lot of things. I can't say it all here, or I will lose your attention, and I have cats to tend to. I will instead revisit the subject hopefully in the future. But it is an interesting subject for me, and I am glad someone brought it up in the forum.