Since I've been painting for almost thirty years now, I've searched for the real reason to do what I do. I've had discussions with lots of my artist friends who consider each and every painting a creation of their soul and would never part with them. But I have bills to pay and while I enjoy the process of painting, I find it a bit easier to part with that piece if the price is right. I don't believe that makes me mercenary in what I am doing, although some would say so. ( I am reminded of Jack White's assertion in his book "The Mystery of Making It" that we are creating "products" if we are selling!) I have found that parting with work, even for a price, brings a certain level of satisfaction.
Maybe it is realizing that something I created from my brain, with my hands and heart, actually moves another person to part with something of value - cold, hard cash. It means that they were so enamoured by the reaction this visual stimulus provides to give me something of value that they earned through their own activities. To think of the many hundreds of pieces over the years that have found their way to homes and offices across the world, each with their own little spark of me...well, that is satisfaction.
If we are honest with ourselves, we paint for a reaction from someone -- a collector, a juror, a neighbor, a friend, our God, sometimes even ourselves. Hopefully it is a pleasant reaction, though there are artists who focus their efforts on more shocking ones. We are all trying in our many creative ways to be noticed and to be heard. It is what sets us apart, and makes our unique gifts so, well, unique. I suppose everyone has it in them to want to feel that their life and efforts meant something in this great sea of humanity. We like to think we are that special raindrop in the thunderstorm. The facts of life are that we are each part of that greater existence, that steamroller of life that keeps on grinding along. I'm sure those ancient sculptors back in Egyptian times thought their work would last for eternity and their names would, too. Now all we have are broken bits and pieces of their "self expression". So what's the point?
The point is to continue to shine that light of creative thought and effort, though it may only last a little while, though it may flicker out as another takes its place. Maybe your spark may not start a forest fire, but it might bring light and warmth to someone else out there sitting in their living room, and smiling at the beautiful art you created just for them. Maybe a smile will spread across your face as you complete that challenging portrait that had been keeping you up at night. Keeping the spark alive, though it may not last the proverbial night -- that's satisfaction.