Edvard Munch, 1893
Mood affects artists and their artwork. It’s a fact. I’m talking about the artist's mood and the mood of the painting, and I’ll spend a couple of blogs on the subject. Today’s blog is about the mood of the artist; next blog will discuss the mood captured in paintings.
As artists, your mood (and mine) can and will affect our artwork and is a critical element. In the broader sense it really drives everything we create.
We have both a long-term and short-term mood. Long-term mood is driven by many things, your circumstances being one of them. By circumstances, I mean the things in your life over which you may (or may not) have control.
Money, for one, can drive us to action or inaction. How comfortable we are, financially speaking, is often a precursor to our success or lack thereof. Many artists live and have lived in poverty or near poverty; others not so much. We mostly read and see today the work of the successful artists, those for whom, at some point in their career, money was not a worry. Most others of which you have never heard or read much about relied on meager proceeds from their art for food, shelter, and supplies. Such pressure certainly had an effect on their mood.
Camille Pissarro, a successful Impressionist by any standard, for much of his career lived from painting to painting and often borrowed money from his friend Claude Monet. Frederic Bazille, on the other hand, had the luxury of being from a wealthy family, and often provided assistance to his painter friends. Such financial pressures certainly had (and have) an effect on an artist's mood.
Relationships are a long-term driver of mood. Good ones with lovers, family, and friends don’t necessarily mean success as some “starving artists” leave otherwise happy lives. But ironically, troubled relationships often go hand-in-hand with the most successful painting careers, ala Edward Hopper or Jackson Pollack.
State of mind also affects long-term mood and artistic ability. You are, no doubt, familiar with the life of Vincent Van Gogh and the affect his mental state had on his paintings. His artwork, the colors and movement, intensified the more confused and irrational he became. His paintings never sold until after his death. Go figure.
Short-term mood can be nothing more than how you felt when you got up this morning (or afternoon), how you physically feel (right now), or how you’re reacting to today’s weather . It’s sunny—and you paint a rainbow and don’t know why. Or it could be what someone said or texted to you. That no-good, so-and-so—and you paint a dark, brooding piece and don’t know why.
Well, I’ll tell you—it’s your mood.
Don’t you just wonder what Edvard Munch’s mood was when he painted The Scream, which is Today’s Image?