Tell Me Everything


William Bell

Artist Statement:

When I first started painting I was using 99 cent spray paint cans and my "studio" was a dirt basement in a run down house in the worse part of town. I was 2 months sober and had no money. After years of alcohol and drug abuse, my hands shook so violently that I couldn't hold or control a paintbrush. Realizing that I wasn't going to be painting like Rembrandt any time soon I focused on alternative means of creating art. Using my limited resources I started painting using spray cans, acrylic and my fingers. I had no money for canvas so I painted on whatever I could find laying around. Studying art history at night, I found myself drawn towards the political and artistic themes of the Dada Movement and the abstract artists of the 40's and 50's. Their direct challenges to the status quo of the art world and daring people to ask themselves, "what is art?" resonated with me. I've lived my entire life in direct contrast to what is "normal." I'm stubborn. I typically learn the hard way and only after countless failures. Painting taught me something I had never had before. Discipline. It taught me that failure is part of life and is okay as long as I learn from it. The discipline I learned from relentlessly practicing every day translated into other aspects of my life and I was able to get a good paying job. Soon I had moved into a 3 bedroom apartment and was able to convert a spare room into a home studio. I taught myself all about the different types of mediums and experimented with them all. I started frequenting galleries and absorbing the techniques and textures and movements of the paintings hanging on the wall. I asked a lot of questions and read a lot of books. I set a goal to practice at least one hour every day. I created a lot of art. A lot of it was terrible. Some of it was good. But with each piece I finished, I learned more.  The paintings I create represent the struggle between ambition and procrastination. The idealized self that we hold in our mind going to war with those thoughts of self doubt, inadequacy and inferiority. It's my belief that everything in life comes down to just two things. Fear and love. It's those dueling forces that I strive to portray in my work. I love movement and use it in my work quite often. I spent a lot of my life not moving and feeling stuck. It wasn't until I started painting that I started moving. Once I started moving I started growing and understanding my place in the world. Even though the majority of the art I create is never going to be seen by anyone, it doesn't matter. I paint because I love to do it. I paint because I have to.