Artists suffer from self-doubt. It might seem they are irresponsible, but artists cannot respond to their own products in the way others might. I do not expect to enjoy a piece of my own art once it is finished – to that degree, it is an ascetic calling. Even if – as sometimes happens many years later – I come to see something significant in one of my works, I cannot know if others could respond in the same way.

The artist’s rôle is to participate in the work’s inception, in my case motivated, usually, by a sense of insufficiency, though the sense of significance in doing so is the artist’s main reward. So Orpheus can charm his way through the world of shadows, but is forbidden to turn and look upon the beauty he strives to bring to the light.  

Why do you paint? Promoting, defending or justifying art.

So-called “artists” and “art students” have an awkward relationship with the wider culture in which they find themselves. Art has no ready-made career structure and is economically dubious. The value of the arts in any other terms than their own is questionable.

Should Shakespeare have spent time writing Hamlet rather than looking after his old mother? At the time, only he could sense what Hamlet might be; can there ever be an objective answer to such a moral dilemma?

Drawing, painting, dressing-up and capering about – is this self expression? To me, it’s a form of public service – people certainly want art – but what art? And am I, or are you, the one with a special calling to practice it? Isn’t everybody some kind of artist?

John N. Pearce © Jane Wildgoose The Wildgoose Memorial Library

We can speak about our works, analyse and defend them, but not speak for them, because Art must speak for itself. If we want to understand an ancient civilisation or an unfamiliar culture, we look at, or listen to, their art. We may never know how its originators, or those who first experienced or valued it, understood it. They, like us, may have valued the mystery, the mystique, as much as the clarity. As part of culture, art is dedicated to expanding consciousness – therefore the unconscious is always involved. Orpheus negotiates the world of shadows; Eurydice teeters on the edge of darkness. Fashions in beauty come and go. Yesterday’s truth is today’s deception.

So much for ‘self-expression’! And our attempts to justify or explain our art can be even more ill-advised. Our works must speak for themselves: we can speak about them, but not for them. Art, to me, is always about something, though what, I can discover only by engaging with it. 

And yet, few artists have nothing at all to say about their art. Those who choose art-school rather than university may well do so precisely because of the freedom to study anything and everything as relevant to their art and life. I was attracted by that lack of definition, that implicit anarchy, almost as much as by the prospect of hours of drawing and painting,

But is it art? I called this website JOHN N. PEARCE ARTIST but there’s always room for doubt.