What is an Artist Statement?

Molly Chance from the UK recently asked, What is an artist statement?

Basically, an artist’s statement is a written document of about 100 words that discusses your work and who you are to the viewer. This is typically done so that the viewer can better understand what you’re trying to accomplish in general and with the specific painting they’re reviewing.

Thus you get to set the stage for the viewer to evaluate your work.

What you’re trying to do is put into words the basic idea behind your painting, your series of work, or an entire body of work.

Some of the questions you may want to address include:

1. Why do you paint what you do?
2. Is there any special process you use when painting?
3. What are your favorite subject matters and why?
4. What materials is the work made from and why?
5. What does your art mean to you? 6. What elements of your process do you use that you were taught?
7. Where do you derive your subject matter from and why?

Keep your statement brief.

Write two or three paragraphs of no more than 3 sentences each. This will keep your thoughts focused and prevent you from over burdening the reader with unnecessary details. Do not use art jargon, use everyday English.

You can also write a bio that is separate from the statement. A bio is about you. A statement is about your painting.

Example of a Bio

Darrell Crow is a self-taught, professional artist, author and art instructor.

Born in Peoria, Illinois in 1949. Darrell grew up in the small towns of Vergennes and Murhysboro, IL. His love for nature was instilled at an early age. His father was a career military officer that moved frequently throughout the United States and Europe. By the time Darrell had graduated from High School in Reno, Nevada in 1966, he had attended 28 different schools. Growing up, Darrell crossed the American continent so many times he felt at home whether in the Nevada Sun, High Sierra mountains, the great plains, the Midwestern corn belt, New England, or the sun-drenched hills of California. “I enjoy the outdoors immensely and try as I might to capture its magnificence with a camera. It wasn’t until I was introduced to oil painting that I was able to truly capture the emotions I felt for our great outdoors.”

Darrell took every opportunity to study under numerous big brush artists including Bob Ross, Robert Warren, Gary Jenkins, Lynn Pittard, Barbara Pasco, Bill Blackman, Jessie Martin, and others. Darrell’s studies of the works of the Hudson Valley School of Artists like Church and Bierstadt further developed his artistic capabilities.
Picking up a paint brush for the first time at 40, Darrell quickly found friends and acquaintances persuading him to teach them his painting style. Since those early days, Darrell has taught over 3,500 classes, and today, has produced over 250 full length, 2-hour videos on how to paint landscapes, seascapes, flowers, tall ships, wildlife, people, pets and much, much more. These videos are available on his website, www.darrellcrow.com. Darrell is also the author of The Basic Techniques of Oils and is currently working on its companion book, The Basic Techniques of Acrylics.

Darrell has built a tremendous and loyal following because of his strict attention to four basic principles.
1. Anyone can learn to paint. If one can sign their name and hold a paint brush, Darrell can teach that person to oil paint if they’re willing. Many people insist they know nothing about painting and can’t even draw stick men yet they can effortlessly sign their name. Darrell’s classes are designed specifically for those individuals who cannot paint and knowing how to sign one’s name is all of the art skills anyone required to learn this technique.
2. Clear, concise, step-by-step teaching. Darrell is adamant that anyone can learn to paint and he proves it by ensuring students know how and why to use their brushes, mix color, and apply paint to the canvas. He assumes the student knows absolutely nothing and builds up their skill sets by thoroughly explaining every step and then demonstrating the techniques..
3. Oil painting is learned behavior. In other words, talent is obtained through the learning of various techniques and mastering their applications. Darrell teaches students his techniques and through repetition, students master each of these techniques, thereby building their talents.
4. Creativity is built through experience. Darrell teaches that the longer a student studies art and the more frequent they practice, they will begin to develop their “art eye.” Darrell teaches that anyone can develop their creative ability by knowing what’s technically possible to represent the student’s idea. As each student’s technical abilities increase and they expand their experiences to a wider range of subject matters, students will learn to “see” new and creative opportunities for expressing their individuality on canvas.
Darrell has over 1,000 paintings hanging in private collections worldwide.

Example of an Artist Statement. (You can produce your own in the first person discussing what are you trying to accomplish with your painting.)

French artist, Michel Delacroix, is an acclaimed master of the naïf tradition and one of the most popular and successful artists in the world today. A self-styled “painter of dreams and of the poetic past,” Delacroix has devoted five decades to painting a city he calls “the Paris of then,” the magical place where he was born, where he spent his boyhood, and where he continues to live to this day.

Delacroix Paris is not the Paris of Today. Delacroix lived through the Nazi Occupation of Paris in World War II as a small 7-year old child, Delacroix says, “During the Occupation, when “we suddenly jumped fifty years into the past. No more cars in the streets, very few lights. Paris suddenly became very quiet, very dark, and, though people were afraid, there was a brotherhood and spirit that was very delightful.” For Delacroix was spared from grasping “the cruelties and absurdities” of war, it was instead, “the one great adventure of my live.”

And it is this Paris of by-gone years and innocent splendors that Delacroix portrays in his works. His Art is known worldwide for their graceful balance of “the earthy and the urban, the cosmic and the ordinary.” Delacroix has captivated private collectors, museums and ordinary people alike throughout the world, earning the artist both universal acclaim and numerous awards.

You may elect to have an artist statement for each type of painting (series) you introduce or for all of your work as seen above by example.

Develop your own Biography and Artist Statement.

Remember, the road to success is always under construction. As you evolve, update both your bio and your Artist Statement.