Tuesday, January 15, 2013
One late night in my studio not long after I had moved in, I placed a new canvas on my easel and started painting when my feelings about what I was doing started to spiral out of control.
I used the wrong paints and the wrong colors. I tried to paint one of my female figures in red but it came out hideously deformed and ended up looking like a twisted man. Looking at the mess I had created, I quickly closed the door to my studio and cried. Just who the hell was I to think that I was any kind of artist at all? I felt so foolish and I felt like a fraud. As a self taught artist whose works are a spiritually based expression of my soul, it is all too easy to feel intimidated by the quality of work being created by my peers - mostly because of my assumptions that the rules they've learned about artmaking somehow makes their art better than mine.
That night I pulled that piece from my easel and hid it because it was just to painful of a reminder of all the things I felt I was lacking as an artist.
Then one day, I decided to pull it back out. I could have easily painted over the whole thing but decided against it. The only thing I painted over was the Red Man because I was determined to not let him get the best of me. The blue circle came first, and then the white hand. I can remember two older women poking their head into my studio as I was pulling my hand away from the canvas. They did not seem very interested in my work and quickly moved along down the corridor. At times like this, it makes me feel as though the vulnerabilities I reveal through my expressions have no value. (Gentle Reminder To Ego: Create for ME and no one else! Also, try working with your studio door closed.)
In every workshop I teach, and with every person I coach, I talk about creating without judgment. Creating art because it feels good and resisting the urge to judge the final product. People often put a great deal of pressure on themselves with regards to quality - that something isn't worth doing if it's not done well.
At times, it feels as though I am at constant war over my wanting to create and wanting to please.
The hand felt significant. As if it somehow represented my my willingness to reach out and touch the most challenging parts of my existence. Some time later, I added the black.
More time would pass and I would add the red - a reminder that the Red Man lives within all of us.
Lastly, I added all of the tribal elements and called it complete. This piece is currently available for purchase.