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Creating an Artist Statement for a Painting

So I’ve been applying to various shows and exhibits since I finally have more than a few paintings I can enter. Most of the application process is straightforward – name of the work, name of the artist, price, medium, size, etc. But there’s one blank I encounter that really gives me grief. The artist statement.

Apparently, there are two kinds of artist statements. One for the artist themselves, and one for the actual painting. Here’s a link to my general statement. That one seems easier to write than one for a specific painting.

Oh so agonizing

Have you ever tried to give an eloquent reason for why you’ve created something? I have no idea what my art ‘means’. What if I have no idea what thoughts went into it beforehand, or even during my creation? What if I just liked the image and wanted to paint it? If having deep thoughts about the painting before or during the doing of it is what makes a painter an artist, I’m not sure I am one.

No, I don’t think it would go over well to say “I just liked the way it looked”. That block for the artist statement is asking for something more. It’s easy enough to write one for myself as an artist. It’s the ones specific to the painting that I’m finding difficult.

‘On the Cusp’ Artist Statement

After much agony, I managed to come up with one for ‘On the Cusp’, since that’s the one I’m planning to enter next. The problem is, this applies to several of my bird of prey paintings, because I’m drawn to the ones at stages ‘in between’. So can I use the same one for multiple works? I don’t know.

This is virgin territory for me and I’m just feeling around in the dark trying to figure it all out. I’ll have to get online and do some more reading to see how other artists are wording their artist statements. The ones I’ve read didn’t help much, because, like I said earlier, sometimes I just like the way a certain thing looks and I want to paint it. I’m not having deep thoughts about the ‘why’. But I went deep to pull one out for my red-shouldered hawk painting that I want to enter into a contest soon.

Liminality draws me in like a magnet, and nature offers plenty opportunity to observe or experience it. This red-shouldered hawk in Ozark pigments poises at ‘between-ness’. At this moment of no longer flying and not yet landed, there is vulnerability. There is potential. And until the moment passes, all of time suspends. Birds of prey are often preyed upon by larger birds of prey. While attention is focused elsewhere, the way this bird is focused on the act of landing, there is the potential of being taken by surprise from above or behind. Nature is a savage muse, and I enjoy expressing the beauty while understanding there is an undercurrent of brutality that flows through it all, at all times.

Madison Woods, On the Cusp Artist Statement
Red-shouldered hawk in handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.
On the Cusp, in Ozark pigments

Have some advice?

If you’re good at these, by all means give me some tips! I’d like to write my artist statement like a pro, and I’m all ears for ways to improve it.

4 thoughts on “Creating an Artist Statement for a Painting”

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  1. I think your statement sounds good, Madison, and I do love that painting. How much would a print of that be? I know we don’t really need any more art before we move, but this is such a favorite of mine. You could email me the information.

    1. I know you must be in a packing state of frenzy by now! I’m going to send you one of these for a housewarming gift 🙂 By the time you’re moved, I’ll have these mounted on ready-to-hang panels, too. I’ll still have traditional prints on paper, if you prefer that. For the sake of anyone else who might be wondering about prices, though, paper runs from $10-45, depending on size, and the mounted panels run from $25 for the 4 x 6 to TBD for the 12 x 16″ (it depends on materials cost to me, and I haven’t calculated that yet).

  2. Erma lea vanlandingham

    I think you are seeing the right way of things and you understand what that love you keep doing what you see

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