“Is being burnt a requisite for the making of art? Personally, I don't think it is. But art is poultice for a burn. It is a privilege to have, somewhere within you, a capacity for making something speak from your own seared experience.” - Molly Peacock (The Paper Garden)
I like the way this quote addresses the pernicious idea that artists must suffer to make great art. Like Peacock, I heartily disagree with this, for I always work best when life is quiet and calm. But everyone suffers at some point in life. (Ellen Kushner quotes Alan Weisman expressing this more poetically: "Everyone does time in the Book of Job.") As artists, we've been blessed with the ability to turn to our work at such a time: for solace, or for catharsis, or simply to make sense of our experience...and although we do this for ourselves, it's a double blessing when such work speaks to others as well.
Fiirst image above: Self-portrait (age 40) by the Russian artist Zinaida Serebriakova (1884-1967). There's an excellent post about her life, and more examples of her exquisite work, on the Illustration Art blog (via Midori Snyder).
Second image: Botanical art by Mary Delany (1700-1788), the subject of Molly Peacock's book The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins her Life's Work at 72 .