To invert a line from Emerson (“Self-Reliance”): in our artworks we may see our own half-hidden feelings?
Or there are these bits from Lucian Freud’s excellent Some Thoughts on Painting (Encounter, 1954):
The painter makes real to others his innermost feelings about all that he cares for. . . . The painter must give a completely free rein to any feelings or sensations he may reject nothing to which he is naturally drawn.. . . [I]t is of no interest whether it is inaccurate copy of the model. . . . The model should only serve the very private function for the painter of providing the starting point for his excitement. The picture is all he feels about it, all he thinks worth preserving of it, all he invests it with. . . . The aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh. . . . Therefore the painter must be as concerned with the air surrounding his subject as with that subject itself.