Artist and the Work of Art – A Case of Love

An idea is expressed, as is the case of a painting, for example, by shape and color on a defined space, the canvas. Where does this idea come from?

Some artists get inspired by observations of the outside world. Others look for inspiration in a dark hole that scholars of the psyche define as the unconscious. This is a process that requires great involvement of the artist’s psyche. Even so, it is very gratifying, for it inspires growth both in the artist and in his or her work, in a symbiotic process where it at some point becomes difficult to separate one from the other. Art, then, becomes the artist’s “personal religion.”

But why are some artists attracted to this dark hole as their source of inspiration? I can’t answer for others, but I can try to investigate, and thereby clarify, what makes me do so.

I believe it to be a case of pure obsession. I am fascinated by the occult, the mysterious, by what is beyond human comprehension and, why not just say it, by a subtle world, which one cannot put into words.

I love to draw, unpretentiously, without any expectation of producing something that reflects the external reality. On the contrary. It is a playful act, something for which I call forth my inner child to take the place of my own consciousness. I once read these words by Picasso that resonated with me deeply: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

In the beginning, I drew on black paper. I looked for something in the dark. What was it?

In painting, even though the canvas is white, the space where I search for the images and symbols that come forth is dark, very dark. And it is a huge effort to bring them to light.

Nevertheless, the shapes I paint and draw are full of color. Some people are even bothered by them, for being too intense (without a doubt my art is not decorative).

Such is the paradox: I search for what is in the dark, in the dark hole, and I find color, light, and Life!

Cezanne confessed about his works: “I wished to copy nature. I could not. But I was satisfied when I discovered the sun, for instance, could not be reproduced, but only represented by something else … by color. … There is only one way, able to represent all, to translate all, the color. Color, if I may say so, is biological. Color is alive and color alone makes things come alive.” – what a beautiful testimony!

Painting, for me, is an act of great suffering as well as great joy. To search within the dark hole is a painful and audacious act. Still, to bring from there the light, the life, is an act of immense joy. In this sense one can say that the artist suffices to him or herself.

And what is this “everything” Cezanne refers to, this Light to which I refer to, if not Divinity itself? Don’t we bring inside our most intimates a piece, a fraction, of the Divine force? This force, that is responsible for the creation of this nature, so beautiful, that so many artists attempt to reproduce in vain? This wonderful force that creates you and me and makes us part of all this Creation?

Schumann writes: “The artist’s vocation is to send light into the depths of the human heart.”

Kandinsky said: “Every man who steeps himself in the spiritual possibilities of his heart is a valuable helper in the building of the spiritual pyramid which will someday reach to heaven.”

Well, to choose this path is not an easy task. It requires feeding the soul, contact with the emotions of life, both with its beauty and with its immense pain, it requires introspection and, most importantly, a lot of courage to keep going deeper, investigating, investigating, investigating, until one is stripped to the core. It might be a lonely and painful path, but it involves a happiness that anyone who chooses to follow it can know. It is a path that can be followed with the strength that comes from Love of the art, of humanity, of life.


Marilia Elstrodt

The Act of Painting

Time flows in an unusual way.

The complete surrender,

The profound immersion and involvement with the piece of art.

Magic happens.

Amidst the silence, a voice that doesn’t speak, yet makes itself heard,

Takes charge.

A thought, an idea…

The  gesture.

Colors and shapes…

The materialization.

The search for the transcendental beauty,

For the true expression,

For the deep feeling.

The fulfillment of an intense ritual,

Comings and goings within the artist,

Between the artist and the space,

Between the artist and the air, the music, the water, the earth.

From inwards to outwards,

From outwards to inwards.

From the soul to the canvas,

From the canvas to the soul,

An intense exchange.

A struggle with the work of art.

Digging into the whiteness of the canvas,

Creating something new, true, profound….

The Beauty.

Pain… Oh how much pain, intense pain…

Beautiful pain,

The pain of creation.


Marilia Elstrodt