Revisiting an old painting and its meaning.

January 13, 2017

I have been attending a bunch of workshops, webinars and meetings with hopes to keep up with this social media for small business stuff. Blog, they say! Release your stream of consciousness onto the Internet and people will read it. (I’m not sure if that’s exactly true, but you may see my posts get longer and more personal as I go!)

 

So today I wake up, check in with the social media world, and am met with a frustrating alert. Another paint night company is taking my paintings down whenever they use a venue that displays my art on their walls. “How rude!” I think, and my first response is to be upset. I think of all the reasons why it “isn’t right”, and my mind goes on like a snowball growing as it rolls. Then I walk into my studio to grab something quickly. I’ve been moving my studio around, and it’s now in a new room and a few paintings are sitting out on the ledge around my workspace.

 

I notice “From the Ashes”-a painting I did a little over a year ago. I created this painting out of my raw emotion. I was upset at the time with how I was being treated by another person. I was frustrated that once again in my life I was dealing with a bout of anxiety that landed me in therapy. David Bowie had just passed away, and I was sad that the star of my favourite childhood movie Labyrinth was gone. All these things drove me to my sketchbook where I composed an image that would represent what I was feeling. I sketched it out, and then I painted it on canvas. It challenged my technical skills to make the face convey what I wanted to say. As I painted, I thought of all the ways this image could be interpreted. For me, it was about saying “You have no power over me” to the person who was bothering me, and to my anxiety for getting in the way of things I wanted to achieve. (And yes, I used that particular statement because it is a key quote from the movie Labyrinth.) Then I realized that the image of a woman looking in the mirror and confronting her demons could be interpreted in SO MANY different ways. It could be the woman who hates her body, has low self-confidence, is in an abusive relationship, is regretting the past.... there are numerous understandings. I included the tear in her eye to contradict the confident statement, because I think that no matter how much we overcome, we are still affected by these things. It makes us stronger, but the scars are still there. Today I stare at the painting and look at all the details. I remember all the comments I received when I first exposed it to the world. Praise from my supportive artist friends, a kudos from my therapist (who then decided that I was to battle my anxiety with art as my weapon), and comments from others like “Well, you got that out of your system. Now you can go back to painting nice paintings,” and “pretty things.”

            Today this piece is a reminder that silly petty things DO NOT have power over me if I don’t let them. It’s a reminder that a lot of those things I was worrying about last year are in the past. I have been out of therapy for many months, I have resolved that bad relationship, but the art piece STILL has meaning for me every day. The meaning changes as my life changes. Although it’s not one of my “pretty” pieces that sells or makes others want to paint it at my events, I am so friggin’ proud of it! My goals for 2017 include working on my skill. I want to get better at art! I want to grow and develop my concepts and my technical ability. This piece challenged both of those avenues for me last year. It also reminds me that in between creating commissions and paint party pieces (which believe me I DO love,) I need to create art that MEANS something. It may not sell, and it may not be something I would hang over my couch to match the décor, but it has something to say and today just a glance changed my emotions from a place of negativity to a feeling of strength and rising above. I am going to leave it out to look at it to remind me of all these things –personal triumphs and future goals. Art truly does have power over me.... end blog. 

 

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