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“Tell me, what does it mean?”

When standing at an art show, I get this question all the time: "Tell me about your art. Why did you paint that? What does it mean?" I often struggle with this question because the answer is so abstract. Remember those days when a teacher would ask you to explain yourself and you’d shudder? Sometimes when I’m asked to explain my work, that feeling comes back to me — as if there should be a black and white answer for what I’ve done. 

The truth is, I could give a “black and white” answer, even though I’m painting a feeling rather than a thesis. I could explain the day I painted that piece… why I felt lonely that day… how certain lines grounded me and brought me peace. I could explain that, as a mom of teenagers, a daughter of aging parents, and as a business owner, I’m pulled in so many directions that the horizon is the line that brings order and tranquility to my world.

But my favorite way to answer is to ask a question in return: “Are you drawn to this piece? Does it spark a memory? Does it look familiar?” Art is subjective. Everyone has their own interpretation of a piece. And your interpretation is just as valid as mine. So tell me, what does your favorite painting mean to you?

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