Me and Joan at MOMA (in imagination)

I’m an artist.  Gosh it’s hard explaining what that means.  Of course everybody knows what an artist is.  But my reason for being an artist is a lot different from lots of other artists’ reasons and from the notions that the non-artists have. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain myself to myself so as to explain myself to others.

But, why explain?  There’s a mystique about art, and should we not let mystery have its sway?  No one asks a dentist “why.”  Dentistry is self-explanatory.  So why do people  ask artists why.  They ask, I think, because every instance of art making is a little different from every other.  The expectations of what art should be are unsettled.  “I know it when I see it.”  And lots of people find a certain mystery in how art is made.  So art shares something in common with theater and magic.

So, who am I?  Why do I paint?  Why should this matter to you?  These are all things I need to figure out.  I hope as I ponder them, the answers will reveal things about us to ourselves.  Because art needs an audience as much as it needs the artist who creates art.  My picture-making is incomplete until that audience — perhaps you — is there helping me realize why I made these things.

UPDATE:  I’m on Instagram now.  Here’s a link:


26 thoughts on “About me, about Art, and about asking “why”

  1. Your paintings are wonderfully gorgeous. And there is an amazing amount of confluence in our thinking. The artist requiring an audience and the link between art and magic are just two. Hello,

  2. Hi Aletha:
    thanks for putting my drawing blog up on your artists links!
    I made that site when I was teaching a drawing class at columbia university- most of the artworks shown are the student’s final projects. I was really proud of how far they came over the course of the semester.
    it’s wonderful to see your work as well, and to know, via the web, how drawing is alive and well!

  3. Martha Lewis,

    I love drawing! It’s the ultimate for me. So anytime you have drawing links, let me know.

    Meanwhile, thank you for checking out this site. I’ll add this other site of yours also.


  4. Aletha,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I replied to them on my own site if you’re interested(I’m new to this blogging stuff and have never dealt with blog-comments before so I hope that my etiquette is where it should be!).

    Your proliferation of blogs, writings and pictures is quite something! I’ve been coming back and back to your web-ring here and just swimming around in it all. I feel like one of your fish. Its a lovely world you’ve got here, Aletha; thank you for sharing it with us.

    Michael Shelby Edward

  5. Michael,

    Your blog etiquette is superb. I did see your comments and read through them quickly. I’ve just returned from traveling. I intend to reread your very interesting reply again.

    So glad that you are enjoying the blog and “swimming around” is just fabulous. Thanks so much for saying that.


  6. Hi Aletha
    Thanks for your comment on my blog!I like the ”colourfullness” of your paintings! And the size of these two! Wish I could see them from close by. I will spend more time to browse around your blog (s).

  7. I’m even more excited after seeing your large paintings here! I really identify with what you say in your “about”. It is like magic. It only comes to be through our imagining and making, and the paintbrush is rather akin to a wand.

    Whenever people ask me “why” – I’ve always a few moments of hesitation because I could go on and on and never really capture why – and there are endless angles and approaches in the verbal sense. I find myself wanting to give them an answer they’ll understand or by “wowed” by – instead of really trying to explain my personal whys. It’s both very complex and very simple: it’s what I do and what I am.

    I’ve subscribed to postings… see you soon.

  8. Aletha….Hello…I love your large artworks….am happy to have crossed paths with you. I feel like we are from the same cloth. Will spend some time on your blog, but for now….

    Peace, Deb

  9. Thank you Patrice and Deb for the comments you’ve left here. I’m glad to know that my comments connect to other artists’ experiences.

  10. I just came across your blog – and I love it. I’m also drawing, writing artist with a lot to say about art, though on my blog I write more about other people’s art – contemporary and historical (I’m also an art historian) – than my own. I really like the way you express your attitudes and opinions – I look forward to reading on a regular basis. I’d like to put up a link on my blog – let me know if that’s okay..

  11. Marilyn, I welcome the link! And thank you for your kind words. I have wondered sometimes if I should write more about old and new masters — not in terms of how they can provide ideas for contemporary artists. Have also been toying with the idea of doing a few art instruction-like articles here, but am not sure yet. Anyway, it’s always great to discover that someone is reading the blog and likes it. I hope you’ll find things that you enjoy, and if you think of topics that you think I should be addressing (based on things you’ve read here) please let me know. It’s always great to get feedback and find out where peoples’ interests lie. Aletha

  12. Quite wonderful how you end with connecting to the audience, to the observer, the other. Our work is incomplete until it is seen, understood by others, until it is shared. I had somehow forgotten how true this is.
    These three paragraphs of your “about” are a pearl. Explaining my art or even art as such; boy, not only did I ever manage to do it, the incapability to justify my dreams often actually killed them. Instead of an artist I became an engineer. Although objectively very successful I did not like it and did not stick with it for long. Now, in advanced age, I begin to relax and allow the artist show me the way…

  13. Thank you, Klaus, for this wonderful comment. I hope that others visiting this page will be inspired by what you’ve written. And today is always a good day to embark upon a new adventure. Hope that you will give drawing or painting a new place in each day’s events. Even a simple new beginning can lead to depths of insight. And it can be fun, too! — Aletha

  14. I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and I can see myself spending a lot of time here enjoying your work as well as checking out your long list of artist’s links. Awesome!! Thanks you!!

  15. Dear Aletha, I love your paintings! And I hope your Moma vision will become real one day! really like your way of painting and thinking! Hope to stay in touch! all the best! Tanja

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