Why Make Art?

Insulated in the studio, we are safe from this question. It doesn’t need to be asked when we are making the art. Creativity is by and large beyond explanation, and perhaps that’s part of its magic. When we make a living brushstroke, when we look at a picture we respond to, we feel it in our bones. We understand it with our bodies, not our minds.

Oils in progress, detail.

But those are the good days, the days we don’t have to explain. When we’re feeling blue, when our art hasn’t made an imprint on another soul, when our studio is filling with our rejected children, then the old question arises, a howl from deep within.

Why make art? Why bother with creativity?

I make art because it is the most dynamic way to investigate myself, particularly aspects of myself I have trouble accessing consciously. When I hold those things in my gaze, I can be more mindful about whether they are useful to me, are serving my happiness.

Oils in progress, detail.

Making images–along with meditation, and other mindfulness tools–is a way to access deep seated beliefs. We can practice getting past the stream of mental chatter that obscures the things we hold in our bodies, in our muscles, in our tension. Doubt. Grief. Anger. Quiet the mind, and the real stuff comes up. Beliefs about our limitations and our possibilities. Beliefs about what others think and how the world works. Beliefs that, in most cases, we have no proofs of their functioning truth in the world. This is why we must be careful about choosing them, and why it is important to confront them.

Why do you make art?





  1. Who is rejecting your “children” Romy? Surely not.

    by Martine
    • No one, indeed Martine; it’s just a perception that can arise when we’re feeling blue.

      by romy zunde
  2. An honest voice from the vulnerability that comes from putting yourself out there creatively. I love how you talk so openly and articulately about your work, your process and your spiritual path Romy. And by the way, the detail of that second painting, I love it. The open joy of the yellow, green and red against the jarring black and blue. It speaks to me….

    by Susan Nethercote
    • Hehe Susan possibly one of the reasons I write about this stuff is because I find it difficult to articulate. Writing is a way of clarifying and unearthing truths that struggle to find voice.
      Funnily enough the two details are the same painting…it’s just a BIG painting!
      And you, why do you make art? :)

      by romy zunde
      • Well I simply must see this painting once it is complete Romy! Well, I guess my art is expressing my inner truth in resonance with others. At least that’s what I hope it is! And I do it because I feel called to it. I vibrate on a frequency that is palpable and magical when I do it. I feel connected with everything in that moment. I realized this was what I was meant to be doing professionally at BHB, when 3 weeks after surgery for a chronic pain issue I noticed that when in the space of my art I felt no pain. It was a clear message for me about my vocation. That is why I resonate so with the spiritual nature of your own journey Romy, I think for both of us it is very much a healing one in many respects.

        by Susan Nethercote
  3. I don’t.

    Not in a very long time. And not only do I feel fine with that, I’m sure it’s the right choice at this time. Both my visual and musical expressions of creativity had become so enveloped by my harsh inner critic that when I do explore those areas I’m either crushed by self-seeded shame or bolstered by egotistical pride in creating some form of vaguely original creative product. Two sides of a coin that have consumed enough of my life.

    Watching your incredible creative and psychological rebirth over these parental years we’ve shared so far, I feel inspired that I will create again with the simplicity I remember as a 6 year old making clay coil pots, and with the purity of experiencing the moment of playing improvisational jazz throughout my teens.

    Five years ago I feared those areas of me were lost. Thanks to your example and what our ballistic rainbow of a daughter is teaching me, I know now those parts of me are instead resting; healing.

    by Andrew
    • We will definitely have a coil pot weekend. Ballistic rainbows everywhere. x

      by romy zunde
  4. Love your comments. Most times I think only another passionate artist can understand those kinds of thoughts. I get it. I treasure those expressions cuz it makes me remember I am not crazy, Just crazy passionate about what I create.Thanks for sharing.

    by debby burow
    • It’s hard to nut out, but I think when it’s written down we can not worry about it anymore. Just make. Plus I think being crazy is not too bad ;)

      by romy zunde
  5. Good question :) I don’t know if what I make is art ;) But I make because it’s the only thing I can do. Writing is the only time I ever say what I mean. It’s the only space in which there’s time to get the message *right*—even if that’s someone else’s message.

    Thinking about it now, that’s pretty important to me :) If I never got a chance to make the message right, I think my brain would melt :)

    by g
    • I love it when someone like you says that: ‘Writing is the only time I say what I mean’. FOR REALS? You mad articulate woman you; I would never have suspected such a thing. I would love to string a sentence together without stumbling, let alone convey the ease with which you deliver conversation ;)

      by romy zunde
  6. Hi Romy,
    Stumbled on your blog and felt moved to say hello! I seem to be working through all the same arty tangled forests..but steadfastly hacking away to find a peaceful clearing, where I can start to reveal my true self expression. I have found my peaceful clearing…I just need to stick with it and not run away! ( or listen to any of those soul sucking beasts ) loved your post on introvertion, who would have known! Haiku is also an interest of mine..http://nicolethelocalartist.com
    Firefox seems to be the only server that I can get to work with your blogsite. I mainly use google chrome..I don’t know how that affects interaction. Anyway….

    brush of colour
    bird flys through open window
    seen from afar

    by Nicole Hague
    • Hello Nicole! They are universal creative concerns for sure! I agree that implementing the cure once found is half the battle.
      Weird about Chrome; I use Chrome to post, but I’ll get my geek to check it out. Thanks for the heads up.
      I loved your eggshell haiku, it made me laugh. x

      by romy zunde