Why an artist?

“I don’t really ask myself that question – it’s kind of…unimportant. I just do what I do best. My decision to become an artist was instantaneous, the very moment I opened a book on Van Gogh. Previous to that, I was thinking of a career in geology or becoming a naturalist. But I really was not that interested in the nuts and bolts of rocks or flowers, but was moved only by their beauty.

Vincent is a character in my comic book, he asks the same questions to the protagonist, but his questions are more strident. The only answer he could come up with was “well it’s my right”! But he was well versed in the motivations of the artists.

My answer to the motto “Know thyself” is, aw! Do I HAVE to? My questions are: (and I ask them of every artist I meet) Why do you do the things that you do? Do you fear the canvas or does the canvas fear you? What makes you think you are the “Chosen one?” Are you a prophet? A visionary? Or only a missionary? Are you some kind of mystic portent?

Artist Bio

Lorne Wagman was born in Downsview, Ontario in 1957. He began painting when he was 14 years old. As painting grew ever more important, Wagman lost interest in school and by grade 9 he quit. He studied at the New School of Art in Toronto from 1974 to 1976. In 1976 he had his first one-person exhibition at a gallery in Yorkville.


Wagman moved to a 400 acre cattle and horse farm north of Owen Sound in the 1980s where he lives and works in the original farm buildings. This allows him to find his subject material close at hand. His work has been influenced by Emily Carr, Group of Seven, and Vincent Van Gogh. He has exhibited in over 35 solo shows along with numerous group shows.

Words and photos by Willy Waterton