I Can’t Paint: A Reflection on the Artist’s Relationship With Expectation

The Art: I Can’t Paint
The Artist: Aarti Shinde

About the Work:

The only thing more daunting to an artist than beginning is the expectation that surrounds the creation of new work.

It’s this expectation that Aarti Shinde captures simply, yet provocatively, in her 2015 piece I Can’t Paint.

In the captured moment, we behold an artist consumed by the creativity and inspiration he has taken from the world, yet struggling to channel it into his brush. It stops at his wrist; so close, and yet so far.

But how much of this block is a result of internal vs external pressure? We see his posture, and recognise a man on the cusp of defeat, but what has brought him to that point?

What’s more telling than his posture is the angle of his brush. Note that it is turned away from the canvas, as if the artist is making a conscious decision not to begin.

Staring at a raw, empty medium and finding the courage to bring it to life is difficult, as is confronting the expectation that doing so means you have to produce something worthwhile. Amateur and professional artists feel this pressure equally.

Look back at the canvas. There is something on it after all: the artist’s shadow.

A true artist can not delay. A true artist must not let doubt guide their hand. A true artist must simply start. Or they will be destroyed by their desire to create.

Nothing is perfect in the beginning. Nothing. And the truth is that you’re the only one who expects it to be.

So begin. Throw everything you have into beginning, and you’ll soon find the brush will follow.

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