It’s been awhile since I painted a self-portrait! I painted this one for the Self-Portrait Project, put on by the arthouse co-op. Everyone who signed up received a 4×4 mounted canvas; all the self-portraits will be displayed together on one wall, later this year. I would love to be able to see the wall of faces!
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The other day, I showed my hubby the commissioned paintings (not pictured above… I’ll post about them later) I have been working on. His comment was that they seem “safe”. I was feeling a bit hurt by the comment, because I took it to be a bad thing. While we were talking about it some more, he asked, “How would you feel if I said, “Wow, those paintings are really out there! They’re risky!” I would probably have felt the same. I would have been worried that they were too risky, that nobody would like them because they were weird. My initial reaction to any comment, even if it is a compliment, is to take it negatively.
SIDENOTE…[How bad is that, that I can’t even take a compliment seriously? I am working on this. It’s very hard for me, but I tend to assume the commenter either doesn’t know what they are talking about, or they are just saying it to make me feel good. A sad state of affairs, I know. Like I said, I am working on it. First step is to be aware. Second is to take the time to stop, listen and really hear what has just been said to me. Then I repeat it back in my head, using “I” instead of “you”. This is a whole other blog post, really!]
So, back to the “safe” comment. It’s kind of ironic, because a lot of the messages in my journal and art focus on feeling safe. So shouldn’t it be obvious that I might like to ‘paint safe’ sometimes? What does that even mean? When I’m working on a commissioned piece, I feel that some part of it has to be safe, in that I won’t make really random marks that aren’t my usual style. I am not going to experiment on a painting that someone is pre-purchasing, knowing that they are buying from me because they like the stripes and the colours I use. I can take risks on my own time/money, not someone else’s.
Or maybe this all comes down to confidence. Sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t. When it comes to my paintings, I usually have it, except when I am painting for someone else, apparently! Because they may have expectations about how it should look, and I want to make sure they are getting what they paid for. Anyway, after a little talk with my mom, I also realized that I do have to stop obsessing over it and just “turn the page” (her words). Time to move on. The paintings are all packaged up and ready to go, and I’m crossing my fingers that they will like them!
Ha ha! Yeah, I know, Mail Art Monday sounds way better. But today is Wednesday and I have few blog post ideas this week, so this will have to do! I have a new pen pal! Some of you may know her on twitter as @saylor_made, or from her sketchbooks or blog. Look at these gems I received from her today:
Pretty awesome! Lots of little pictures and stickers in many colours. Yummy!
Here is what I am sending to Jeannine! [Official spoiler alert for Jeannine.. don’t look down!] See the little book? I love it! I made a mini-version of a portion of my 2011 Sketchbook Project! Isn’t it cute?
Here’s a close up of the painting:
Hooray for mail! Happy Spring!
Lately I’ve been painting safe. Painting for others. Painting what I think other people want to see. What evidence do I have that staying safe will actually help me? None, actually. What evidence do I have that taking a risk will benefit me? Surprisingly, there is some; the paintings that people respond to the most, are the ones that I have painted from my heart, rather than my head. They are the ones that piss me off, make me angry, and the ones that I dislike the most. But they are also the ones that people respond to, and the ones that people want to buy. I guess it makes sense; if I’m feeling something as I paint, you’ll feel something when you look.
This is my goal now – to paint more from my body, less from my head. Paint what I like, not what I think others will like. It sounds so simple, but sometimes it isn’t easy. Using watercolors forces me to accept what is happening – they are harder to control than acrylics. I’m going to start playing more, and accepting more and using more watercolors. Oh, and dancing before I paint, to help me get out of my head.
After taking the intuitive painting workshop with Michele Cassou, I thought that I had to keep this kind of painting separate from my “work painting”. Now I am not so sure. This is all an experiment. I’ll let you know how it goes!