Painting can be quite self-indulgent - it's just the nature of it.
Our subject matter is often stuff that we love and therefore we paint it. It all makes sense until we start exhibiting our work, and then we may realise that not everyone shares the same passion.
We get no sales and we wonder why some other artists are selling and we aren't. Many of us have felt this and it can result in sharp feelings of rejection, not just of our art but of ourselves.
A few artists come to the realisation that we don't paint just for ourselves, particularly when we exhibit. Really, we don't want our paintings to be liked, but loved. In a strange kind of way, when paintings are loved, the artist feels loved too.
The easy path to take, is to paint what and how we like, and to the devil with anyone else.
In reality, it is not even what we paint, but how we paint it that counts. Some of the most mundane subjects have been painted in dramatic ways that emotionally affect a viewer.
There is no greater compliment for an artist than to hear expressions of love for their work. In conjunction with phrases like: "I feel like I'm actually there, I can feel the rain, I can feel the cold, I can feel the heat, I can smell flowers,” are all proof that your work has connected with someone.
Careful and expert craftsmanship does not always translate into connection. So, what does?
Light and shadow play a large part in attraction. The surest way to make a painting unnoticed is to have no shadows, no darks and no lights. It's amazing how many paintings just don't have any of these things. Calmness is also attractive - not everyone wants to be assaulted by glaring colour or disturbing images. The calmness of a limited palette can be very alluring.
As well as light and shadow, the illusion of space and distance can draw a viewer into the work, and even though it may not be photographic, the illusion makes the painting believable. There is such a big difference between photorealism and believability because the broadest impressionism can be so very believable. The tonal road to distance is one that every artist should travel.
The bottom line is to make people feel our paintings, not just see them. Let them feel the drama, the quietness, the light, the dark, the calm, the rain, the surf, the happiness, the sadness and the joy. It's not enough for art to be seen - let it be felt!
Caption: After the rain - Largs Jetty - acrylic on canvas board.
Can you sense that after-rain feeling?