Showing you this painting before it is finished is much like posting a photograph of myself half naked, but whatevs. Just know that it is in progress... (And yes, the painting is in my car so Gretchen didn't walk on it while it was drying... and yes, I keep crochet supplies in a bowl in the back seat of the Corolla year-round because you never know when you're going to need to crochet.
Last night, the Universe came together to create a perfect evening. Before I went to my painting group, I gave myself a pep talk:
- You will not be intimidated by your painter friends just because they are clearly extremely talented beyond what is considered Normal.
- You will not be intimidated by the amazing art hanging in the galleries and hallway when you get there. Those things were done by professional artists.
- You will not sit there like a lump staring at a blank canvas because you prepped the canvas with yellow and sketched something on it the night before. So there.
I got there early and set up my supplies. I was ready to tackle the large canvas, which will be the biggest acrylic painting I've done to date. It was already prepped with the bright yellow you can see where the eyes will go. I didn't realize the yellow was so very bright until I got to the group, so I later went over it with more of a mustardy yellow color that I'm really enjoying. Me and my bright yellow canvas chatted with friends, looked at other peoples' work, and remained calm.
I had some mishaps along the way. The face color didn't work out right and ended up kind of a neon purple at first (you can see traces of it in the shirt now), but I eventually was able to mix the right shade of "white person flesh." The eyes are like that because they are eventually going to have open book pages for eyelashes. One of my friends suggested that I use real book page print for the eyelashes. I just have to get this certain kind of goo that is kind of like Mod Podge but not really. Something like that. The "hair" is supposed to be flower petals, but right now it looks like a wig from Cats, so that is bothering me. BUT ALL OF THESE THINGS CAN AND WILL BE FIXED. Rome wasn't built in a day, Blondie.
The other wonderful thing was that all of the paintings that make me drool and twitch and feel nervous in the hallway were POOF gone. The gallery is getting ready for an open house this weekend, so the walls are bare while they choose what to put there. The walls were bright white only, which made me feel less intimidated. I also bonded with my group-mates on a deeper level than I have before. Instead of having an internal dialogue the whole evening, I talked to Other People. The teen from my other painting class and his mother were sitting next to me, so I got to chat with them about a whole bunch of things. In fact, it's the boy who taught me how to properly mix "white person flesh." I have black, white, blue, red, yellow, and green paint. It's up to me to mix them into whatever shade I'm looking for. The color wheel? It can be very confusing. It helps to have other painters around.
So now I will get around to telling you the "meaning" of the painting. Well, part of it at least. We all know I can't paint realistic things, so I decided to go back to my roots. Remember the Flower Girl?
She was my very first painting because I couldn't paint realistic still-life flowers in my watercolor class out in Oregon. I have urges to take her down and "fix" her blotches, but I won't. She's my first go at painting, so she will stay the way she is.
Flash forward to when I was living in Chicago. I was living with a musician, so I decided to paint something that could go on our office wall that was somewhat musical. There was a part of me that wanted to be loved as much as "the music," so I made a series of paintings of girls with musical instruments covering their nekked bodies. This one was of me (pardon the boobage -- also, I totally upsized my boobs for that painting; I was much smaller back then in many ways):
I even gave her little music notes for pupils:
I like the painting, but I no longer display it because it reminds me of my ex. I now keep it over at Nerdtopia tucked in my childhood closet with a bunch of other things (except for now when it's here to remind me what it looks like for research purposes... but she's growing on me... maybe I'll let her live in the daylight for a while). So anyway, I decided to somehow combine the Flower Girl and the old self-portrait into a new image.
The other key element in the new painting comes from a painting that Shrinkydink's mother made. The painting hung above the chair that I sat in during therapy, and after going there for a loooong time, I finally noticed it. It was of a old woman who had a big tear in her chest. She was holding a lump that she had pulled out. It was glowing and shining back in her face. It's really hard to describe, but trust me, it was amazing. I explained one day to Shrinky that I felt like that woman -- my heart had been ripped out, but that was the only way I could discover that it could shine. I want to add this kind of imagery into my new vision. I have not yet painted the big hole in the chest on my new girl, but it's there. And the heart will be shining after it get some more colors and mayhem painted onto it. I can't paint anatomical hearts, so the Valentine's Day one will have to work. It will work. It's fine, Blondie.
It's true that it's kind of narcissistic to paint a self-portrait and display it in your home, but I'm looking at it as a kind of therapy with hidden meanings that will serve as strong reminders in my daily life. And I'm sure that years from now, I'll once again revamp the concept and create a new painting that more accurately represents my future life. But for now, this is my girl. She is bookish and flowery and not quite Normal. She has some battle scars, but she has learned a wealth of information from those experiences. And because of all that pain and growth and work, once in a while, her crusty black heart shines.