What dri­ves artists to paint a par­tic­u­lar piece? I get asked this ques­tion often, so I want­ed to answer it as hon­est­ly as I can here. For me, it fre­quent­ly comes down to one sim­ple thing: a color—or a com­bi­na­tion of colors—that I’m crav­ing. It’s as strong as a crav­ing for a cer­tain kind of food, and it’s almost as tac­tile a sen­sa­tion as savor­ing that food once it hits the taste buds. Real­ly. I’m not kid­ding.

Recent­ly, that col­or was a cer­tain deep shade of periwinkle—the per­fect inter­sec­tion of blue and red, warm hit­ting cool, both find­ing a har­mo­ny, a peace­ful way of coex­ist­ing. I need­ed to have it, see it, work with it, dive into it, feel it become part of me. I also need­ed a big can­vas so I could move with the paint, take part in a cer­tain kind of dance, if you will. I had no idea what would hap­pen; I knew only that I craved a col­or and then a feel­ing, and the col­or and move­ment would help me express that feel­ing. The result was “That Time of Day, Aca­dia,” 36 x 36 x 1.5 inch­es, oil on gallery wrap can­vas.

As the paint­ing began to form, I noticed oth­er stir­rings and became more aware of the tech­ni­cal side of things: how the com­po­si­tion need­ed to help the eye move through­out the piece (which meant chang­ing some shapes here and there), how a gold­en, medi­um cad­mi­um yel­low would be a good com­ple­men­tary col­or to set off against the peri­win­kle, and how magen­ta and orange need­ed to play a role, too.

"That Time of Day, Acadia," original oil painting by Dawn Boyer

That Time of Day, Aca­dia,” 36 x 36 inch­es, oil on gallery wrap can­vas, orig­i­nal art­work by Dawn Boy­er

I noticed as well that streaks of light in my work are mak­ing more of an appear­ance. And I found myself remem­ber­ing a cer­tain day on my road trip when vis­it­ing the jaw-drop­ping glo­ry of Aca­dia Nation­al Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It was sum­mer, that mag­ic time between night and day where, when I’m for­tu­nate enough to be in a beau­ti­ful loca­tion, and even more for­tu­nate to be present, awake, and aware, I expe­ri­ence deep and yet con­tra­dic­to­ry stir­rings of peace and long­ing. For me, light and water and that time of day feel like com­ing home for my soul. Add some hills or moun­tains, and it turns into nir­vana. That’s how this expe­ri­ence was, and once my mem­o­ry took me back to it, the paint­ing almost cre­at­ed itself.

But all that took sec­ond place to what start­ed it in the first place: a vis­cer­al crav­ing I had to act on.

If you can, pause to notice the col­ors around you that strike you, stir you, or that you might crave, and then observe the feel­ings they bring about in you. It’s a won­der­ful med­i­ta­tion, and I guar­an­tee you’ll come to a new aware­ness.

Here’s to the sense of “wak­ing up” that art brings into our lives.