I’m in the forest, approaching a small log cabin overlooking a still cool lake, a snowy mountain in the distance. I step back, startled by a sweet little fawn creeping through pine needles. As I step back I trip over a branch, I mean the rug; I’m back in my studio…
I’m painting a picture of a picture, a vintage picture painted on a slab of wood with visible tree trunk edges which sits on a fancy vintage hand crafted shelf. The light makes fun shadows on the wall.
When I look back at the photo of this in-process painting I’m fooled into thinking this is a photo of the actual object. The small ceramic deer looks three dimensional with the shadow projected on the painting behind it. Wow… trompe l’oeil! This is fun!
In 2016 I was the proud recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council and the partnering arts councils of the Regional Artist Project Grant Program. After researching, purchasing and practicing with materials–various mediums and varnishes, and brushes, I decided on a project that would separately show the results of each medium used: linseed oil, walnut oil, stand oil, dammar varnish….blah blah blah…paint terms that only an art geek like me would get excited about…
I decided to produce seven paintings in seven days. It was also serendipitous that I had that week off from my job so I could focus on painting only! Needless to say, I was absolutely in heaven.
I played with the idea of being more open and obvious about the narrative. The paintings were about Jeff, my fiancé who chose to leave this world through suicide. I’ve often debated about how obvious I should make that in my work. The objects, colors, and numbers of things in my paintings are almost always significant, intentional. But should I come right out and say/show Jeff’s name or his likeness? Also, I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to paint a realistic portrait of him, despite his death having occurred over four and a half years ago now.
And then this little troll morphed into Jeff before my eyes. And I found myself smiling as I painted this one!
Halfway though the week I went to see The Women of Abstract Expressionism show. It was fucking fantastic, standing in the midst of these wonderful works by Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning, etc. I wanted to stay there, step into the canvases, into their worlds. But more about that in a future post. Anyway, I was excited to paint some expressionist works again and decided to make the last two of the seven abstract.
Here are the finished #7in7 which I will probably end up working on more–more layers in the abstracts, more colors in the shadows of the still life, more brown in that moth, more frayed threads sticking out of the bare spot below the bear’s eye…..
Fabulous easel and supplies made possible with support of the North Carolina Arts Council and the partnering arts councils of the Regional Artist Project Grant Program. Have I mentioned I am a grateful recipient!
I have a story to tell. I have things inside I need to express. But I censor myself. Not sure what I should say and not say. How my words will make people feel. How I will look. What people will think of me.
Worried that writing, and telling, about the tragic things, and then the ways certain people neglected me or hurt me will make me look selfish, like I’m fishing for sympathy, or like I’m exaggerating about a troubling relationship after the fact so people take my side, like I’m really the monster.
But why do I care?
It’s my story. Along with the few beautiful parts of my life, these things are a part of who I am. And I like who I am now. Despite the fact that I perpetually feel like a freak who doesn’t fit in. I could “be positive” and “move on” and “forgive” but that doesn’t heal the hurt. It’s still there, even if it’s buried down deep under new things I find to distract myself with. It’s still there.
Writing heals. Painting heals. Tell your story. The people who ignore you don’t matter. The people who react negatively fueled by their own selfishness don’t matter, the people who shame you don’t matter. Tell your story.
Sometimes you feel that dark dreadful something in your gut eating away at your insides, scratching to get out, threatening to scream…
Maybe it’s just Friday.