Emotional expression in art is inevitable, whether the artist likes it, or not.
It’s been an admin sort of week here at MKPG Art. I finally got taxes dealt with. I organized all of my to do’s for my June art show in Bend, Oregon. I got all the things from my trip unpacked and put away back in the studio. I social media’d my little heart out about my artwork’s appearance on HGTV.
What’s missing from this picture? Art creation. My studio process has been annoyingly “stuck”. I made some progress with two little 8x10 paintings only to get frustrated and cover them both completely with black paint. I sanded back some of the dark paint and allowed the bright colors underneath to peak through (see above). There is something there. I’m just not sure what it is and/or if I like it.
All I know is that I’m tempted by building supplies like joint compound right now and I’m a bit worried that I will end up with a bunch of paintings that weight a million pounds and look like they’ve been pried from a falling down piece of architecture…but that also kind of excites me. I’m choosing to follow my art mantra which is “when in doubt, DO!” and so I am looking forward to heading into the studio this afternoon with the goal of dying and texturizing joint compound to slather all over these two pieces. I may need a pick ax afterwards…but honestly, that kind of sounds fun as well.
I feel like I’ve said “it’s been hard to get into a groove this year” about a hundred times, but damn…it’s been hard to get into a groove this year! I think that part of the problem is that for the first time, I feel as though I’m stuck working on a series of paintings because of a deadline. If there is one thing I know about myself, it’s that being forced to complete something is a terrific way to get me to not want to do it.
And what’s up with that? Is that just a stubborn, independent person’s problem? I feel like I’m the kind of person that will get stupid excited for something, until someone tells me that I HAVE to do it. Then I just want to move onto the next thing. I’ve not had that creep up in a series of paintings though, until now.
What is it about this series that has me feeling so bogged down? For one, I suspect the difficult subject matter has something to do with it. I’ve been focused on my past sexual trauma and it has been thrust into the spotlight once again this month, for various reasons, one being that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Look, I’m glad to be talking about the subject matter and it has helped me in processing difficult shyte. However, I’d like to find a balance between expressing what has been locked up for years, and wanting to detach and move on.
There are a few challenges surrounding this for me. For one, I like talking about it…until I can’t stand it anymore. Honestly, I am grateful for this conversation and honored that I have become a voice within it. Every time I hear from someone who thanks me for my raw honesty, tells me that they now know they aren’t alone, and connects the dots between past trauma and current emotional issues, I feel as though I have created positive change. OMG THAT’S AWESOME.
However, I do occasionally find myself wanting to run and hide in the bathroom with the door locked and all the water running so no one can hear me curse and cry. Usually this happens after hearing from trolls, (I know there is nothing I can do about those nasty people.) but this has also been happening after particularly hard truths are expressed by others. More than once, people have said that the things they are telling me have never been said out loud before. That’s amazing, yet terrifying. I find myself in a place of “authority” on the matter and for that I feel humbled, burdened, grateful and like I want to throw up.
I say this not to make those who have spoken their own truths to me feel bad. That’s not it at all. I guess it’s just important to me that the entire picture is seen. Just because I’ve opened up about this in a public way doesn’t mean that I’m not still highly effected by it. I still cry. Not daily anymore as I was last Fall, but multiple times a week. I think it’s because I’m still raw and maybe it’s difficult to heal entirely while still taking in the pain of others that's similar to my own.
Perhaps that’s why this series of paintings is difficult and my instinct is to literally burry it under construction materials. I should experiment with my art and yet, I’m terrified by the metaphor. Am I just finding new ways to burry my old pain? Am I wanting to put it back now that it’s out in the open? Does part of me wish I had never opened this Pandora’s box?
I am finally doing what, as an artist, I've been striving to do: connecting my creations with my emotions. I am expressing what has been hiding deep within me through words (easier) and images (waaaaaay more challenging). Why is one so much easier than the other? Maybe it’s because within essays, I can hide behind snarky sarcasm and self-deprecation and within the abstract painting, there is nowhere for me to hide. What comes out, comes out, and frankly, it’s not always easy for me to look at.
Truth be told, I kind of like what’s happening in the black paintings. I like that the bright colors are popping through, almost in revolt. Like it’s a “can’t hold me down!” kind of moment. But the colors also look as though they are trying not to be re-hidden. They are struggling to stay bright and present. They are nearly drowning in the darkness. Both are perfect descriptions of how I feel and I can’t hide from that nor can I say that one is more powerful than the other.
I know one thing, when weeding the yard looks more fun to me than painting, I’m either on the wrong path with what I’m working on, or absolutely spot on the right path of something that needs further (yet scary) discovery. Oy…I think I just have to press on and get through this period. Hopefully something powerful comes from it as I would like this to resolve with a bang rather than a whimper. Frankly, the whimpering is a bit out of control these days and I’m realizing how scared I am.
I hate admitting that I’m scared. I would like to think that freedom from my denial means that I’m all fixed now, but that’s not the truth. I live in various forms of fear splattered with blood, sweat, tears and unpredictable yet incredibly empowering brave moments. I believe that those moments are happening with more frequency, but when I’m in fear, they're hard to see. All I see is weakness and I find that dang annoying. Today, I’m going to choose a different reaction to feeling weak. Rather than hiding under black paint, blankets and Law & Order, I’m going to approach it head on…with joint compound…and a freakin’ pick axe.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.