This is definitely true for me, a painting creates its own emotional world. My emotions don't influence the painting. From a longer read on Joan Mitchell:
"Nochlin makes the usual mistake [in assessing Joan Mitchell's work]. What you see tells you what went in. If the painting looks angry – for whatever reason — then it was made in anger. An angry painting was made when the artist was angry. But there is another way of looking at things.
I myself find that when I am making a paintings I have no emotion in mind. The paintings itself creates the emotion. I discover the emotion and the feelings through the painting. Sometimes it is an emotion or a feeling I never knew I had in me; sometimes it is an emotion or a feeling that is totally alien.
The equation is not E/F = P; but P = E/F.
The emotion or the feeling may come after the painting, not before. In Arthur Gell’s anthropological terms, the painting looks at me. I will go further. In my studio, the painting creates me.
It is not that emotions (rage, anger, joy, reverence) are translated into paint. It is instead that the paint causes emotions in the artist and thence the viewer — combinations of emotions and sometimes the creation of unknown emotions and feelings.
Does the same equation work for ideas? Yes. Ideas do not cause paintings, or if so only bad paintings. Real paintings generate rather than illustrate ideas. Surely, I learn about myself through my paintings; but more importantly I learn about the world."