What are you grateful for? by Catherine Hagartty

Lately I've been talking to my friend Catherine, about how lucky we are to be doing what we do, and so together we decided to set on a journey to find out what other painters feel grateful for, here goes:

Being a painter, what are you grateful for ?

Katherine Bradford

1. Never having to get dressed up

2. An intense, immersive kind of life

3.  The chance to look at interesting things all the time.  My horror of being thrown in prison is mainly that I’d have nothing to look at...but maybe after awhile I’d adjust and form a new aesthetic.

Eleanna Anagnos, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"I’m grateful that coloring outside the lines is my job; that embracing my weirdo self is encouraged; for the privilege of learning from and being inspired by creative, thoughtful idiosyncratic humans; for existing in a place of wonderment and finding the magic in the everyday; for living in this stimulating, crazy, diverse city, that I call home; for community and the privilege of being a part of a very special art collective, the love and support I’ve received for being me and doing what I do ~ the privilege of choosing the path less chosen, off-roading, so to speak, there are more obstacles but it's WAY more fun!"  



Paul Gagner, Brooklyn, N.Y.

"This will sounds strange, but I'm grateful for my anxieties. The reason being, is that I believe that my anxiety prods me to work harder and to keep tweaking a painting until it's reached an ideal state of "compelling awkwardness." It's also that same awkwardness that can be it's own kind of anxiety. 

I'm also grateful for time. While I'm not the slowest painter that I know, I'm also not always the fastest. Sometimes a painting comes really easy. You don't have to think about it and it just flows out of you. Other times, it feels the painting is sabotaging you ever step of the way. Time is a crucial component to making a painting. I spend a good deal of time looking and thinking. I'll write down everything that's running through my mind: what the painting is trying to say, my expectations of the painting, any associations, my frustrations with it and life, etc. It can get ugly. But it can also be profound and "time" is the crucial ingredient. 

Finally, the most important thing to be grateful for is an audience. While my paintings are very therapeutic for me, they would be meaningless without someone to share it with. For that, I'm especially grateful for my wife, Maureen, who is my favorite critic. She's very supportive, but always honest and insightful. If a painting doesn't cut the mustard with her, I'll rework it until it does. Also, a larger audience is important too, but I often feel like I'm making paintings for her and it's so satisfying when she likes them. That's the best feeling."


Eleanor Ray

1. The community of passionate people that comes together around art, including painters and gallerists and writers — people who have committed to this very specific field of interest and are finding their own ways to be immersed in it. I love that painting culture connects people so strongly around the world and locally. I see that kind of shared vocabulary of interests as open and expansive rather than insular. It opens up possibilities.

2. The availability of such a rich history in painting. Paintings that are communicating across centuries. 

3. Less pressure to be tidy or have great clothes. Painters should get a free pass there, right?


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Joshua Bienko

"I don't know that I am. I mean, sometimes, certainly, I am grateful to be a painter, but the question is nonetheless difficult. It feels more like a disease sometimes that you can never be rid of. You can sometimes hide the symptoms, but not for long. I don't mean to be dismissive or overly artsy, but you know, sometimes folks might say, 'Hey, you should make a big painting,' or 'Have you ever thought about painting on panel?' It's difficult to respond. I don't know that I consciously make all of those decisions. Like I wish maybe I had more control over the process of making a big painting or a small painting or a drawing or a rap video. I don't know that I have that control. I feel like a hunting dog that catches a whiff of something and then pursues it. Sometimes when you go a-hunting, you don't come home with a bunting (re. The Black Rider). Sometimes you do. You find out afterward. So, for painting and drawing (which should be thought of a prolegomenon) and curating and any other mode of thinking, I think I appreciate the hunt, or the pursuit or what Lacan might call, the "drive." 

I like the way that this relates painting to life. You can not ever love fully, you do not ever spiritually 'arrive,' you never score an 18 on the golf course, and you never make the painting perfect. You never play enough with your children, you never prepare enough for your job and you never exercise, practice or devote your self enough. But you can get close. It's the 210yd 5 iron from the fairway that gets you back on the course. It's a moment with Cobalt Yellow Lake and Chromatic Black that make you feel like you've gotten a glimpse. It's a drawing that comes so much from you, that it appears foreign to you at first glance. 

These are the things I appreciate about being an artist, in as much as I am a painter as such.'


Benjamin Pritchard

"I am grateful that as a confused alienated youth, I stumbled across a medium that exists in time like a small plane; that functions like a perch to look out into the heavens,  like a map that unfolds and extends into space, and that opens up below into a deep well that extends far down into the depths.

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David Humphrey

"I’m grateful for the opportunity to immerse in the visual as if it were a hallucination, for the ability to conjure images that connect to the known world as much as to the unknown and to make objects that have a capacity to look back at me with feelings or knowledge I don’t possess."


Helen O'Leary

1. Freedom & equality:  I found painting early, with tar brushes from my father’s boat building on the white washed walls on the farm. I painted what I knew into the lime whiting, which we used both as color and disinfectant. It grounded me, even as a young girl. I wanted to paint myself out of a society that seemed to diminish me based on  class and gender.

2. Family & the community of people both local and global: The crime and punishment of that time for me was sexuality and adventure, and leaving the strict prosthesis of rules and customs behind. I had a real love of the land, of the things that our people had made, of songs that were sung and objects that were constructed out of need and tradition. I knew our land, every stone and ditch, by heart and yet, I knew I would leave it. 

3. Solitude:  I can be alone when i paint, in the most internal and meaningful way. It is the thing that wakes me up in the morning- and I see the world clearly through its lens. its a language that is deeply personal that for me communicates above and beyond other languages.


Jennifer Coats

"I'm grateful to be able to sit in my studio alone for hours on end trying to make flat things breathe via puddles of colored goo via repetitive hand movements. 

 I'm grateful to be able to contemplate the ancient past and pretend I'm part cave person while painting. Painting is a portal to the past and the future. It encourages you to contact aliens and think about spiral galaxies in other parts of the cosmos. It encourages you to shrink down to the size of an tiny speck and engage in quantum shenanigans.

I'm grateful to live in this city and know so many amazing painters whose work inspires me and who I love to talk to."

Rick Briggs

"I feel lucky to have this contemplative life in the studio, away from the world, in a space that allows me to make my own world. I'm grateful for my close friends who inspire me with their words and their work as well as the opportunity to be a part of a much bigger, multilayered, and always changing art community in NY. At museums, I'm thankful for the potential to time travel while standing in front of a painting via the magic of imagination, to be transported to the mind and hand of the artist who made the painting and then return again, both feet on the ground, eyes and mind wide open."

Clarity Haynes

"I love that you’re focusing on this theme. Gratitude is so important, and we rarely give it a forum. I’m so grateful to be an artist – to be able to work with my hands, to do something that’s therapeutic, that produces something concrete. Also, the fact that it is nonverbal! To be able to at least try to formulate a response to living in this world, in a medium beyond words… is really exciting. And truly, you yourself don’t really understand it. It’s a mystery for sure. You’re like a detective, following clues. It’s like a game; it’s play. (Although we’re always calling it work, a noun.) Painting is a craft so, no matter what, it’s grounded. It saves you."

Julie Langsam

"I am most thankful that I get to do what I love and live the life I want to live."

Catherine Haggarty

"The space between a paintings creation and resolve is something I am grateful for. The dedicated life of observation that painting has afforded me keeps me present & it keeps me company...even when I am totally alone. Ultimately, the company the paintings keep me in memory and the joy it brings me in dreaming it's conclusion is one of my greatest rewards. 

More than anything though - I am most thankful for the community it has afforded me. Painting has opened up a world which once seemed too hard to enter and it has encouraged me to live a brave, challenging, and generous life. Being an artist lets me partake in and contribute to a living history that is part of a continuum greater than anything I will ever do by myself."