Updated: Jun 1
These "paintings" were a large part of my life years ago. My BFA installation was called "The Seabird's Dream" and I created many of these. Most of them are gone. This particular piece has sat dormant for a really long time, and I recently, in the midst of my huge life shift, decided to let it go and give it away to someone I care about. It forced me to finish the work.
Over the last few days I have sat with it, as if I was talking to an old friend. And the experience has been the most healing and gentle kind of comfort. I can hear myself clearer after so long, and I can love this part of myself again. I always half didn't believe in this world I had created, and now I am ready to dive in again. A good friend of mine said sometimes there is a "fertile incubation period" and he could not be more right.
The idea for this came out of necessity in a way, but also emerged as an embrace of aspects of myself I decided to accept and not resist. Paint tends to stress me out; the way it gets everywhere, and how expensive it is. I remember being in college and feeling anxiety about having to pack and unpack paints, avoid getting them on my clothes, and feeling as if I had no control. As much as I liked painting, I felt stifled by the process. There are so many elements to this issue and I suppose I could keep viewing it that way; as an issue. But some wise part of my still very young self saw it as an opportunity to make my "hang ups" be my palette. I think I asked myself how I could reign in the supplies I used, and feel comforted by the work I was making at all times. Could I maintain constant self care throughout my own artistic process?
At the time I was still obsessing over the texture of raw canvas and found myself more enamored by the process of stretching it and prepping it than actually painting it. Whenever I added gesso it felt as if I was destroying something simple and beautiful. This partnered with my own OCD tendencies led me to reject the traditional use of this material.
I remember getting crap from my department but ultimately it being accepted in some way. The real important part of this though was me owning it regardless. And I do. The constant battle of staying true to yourself and not listening to anyone else.
When I finally embraced this practice, walking around campus with my bag full of canvas circles, gray markers and stretched canvas, light, clean, and wrapped like a gift, made my shoulders relax. I no longer felt anxious about mess. I felt softer and like I could breathe. And I could really work on it anywhere. It was an important time in my life; melding self care with artistic practice and realizing they aren't that separate. I am in my body and my body allows me to make the artwork. They are one and the same. My voice and what I make and how I feel when I make it. The whole practice is a spiritual experience.
When I sat in front of my canvas a few days ago, breathing life back into the image, it was like I was praying, and welcoming myself back home.
More to come.
P.S. It glows at night.