Sometimes when I take a break from painting for a week or so, it is so hard to get back into it. I am not an artist that can just constantly paint and churn out work. I can't seem to just paint to be painting. I have to really be inspired and in my creative zone it seems. Then there is the perfectionist in me that thinks every work needs to be even better than the last one. This gets me into trouble a lot, as it is right now.
I started a new painting last week. I had no real plan with it. Honestly, I had been staring at the amazing work of Nashville artist Danielle Duer and those crazy little inky designs she does. I wanted to play around with some ink and tiny little brushes, and that's about it.
I didn't use a reference model. I usually find some pic of a fashion model and base my girl roughly off of her, but this time I made her up. I just wanted to see what happened. Well, I could not get something I liked. I gessoed and gessoed over her face. I got frustrated over and over with the way she was looking, and yet nothing I did seem to make it better. She kept seeming too masculine and not "pretty enough". This made me really think about what my real goal for the piece really was. Why do I need them to be pretty?
Once I started to think about that the whole idea for the painting came to light, and maybe ideas for future ones too. I got to thinking about expectations laid upon us, and about how we are eternally acting out these expectations. We are truly always acting, even when we are being the most real. The Internet is where we really do our best acting and Facebook seems to be our greatest stage. We present ourselves in a certain way by what we choose to show others.
So I realized this painting is frustrating me because she is reflecting me in so many ways right now. She came completely out of my subconscious and I guess this is what my subconscious wants to express in the now. I want to do a series of paintings that touch upon our many roles. Especially as women, we are expected to play so many roles...nurturer, listener, healer, warrior, provider, maid, sex kitten, the list goes on and on.
I am starting with the Cosmic Clown. In college when I was studying Western Native American cultures I was always struck by the idea of the Sacred Clown. This idea was so very important to cultures like the Lakota and the Hopi. These clowns exposed hypocrisy and arrogance before these behaviors got out of hand. Thus Sacred Clowns were considered spiritual leaders in their tribes, because they helped keep the balance in the community.
So my Cosmic Clown is a Sacred Clown, but maybe a wounded one. One that knows how important her role still is, but also knows that no one seems to care anymore about the part.
I am working really slow on her. It is not a big painting or particularly detailed, I am just having so much trouble finding the energy to finish her. I keep thinking I am going to put her on the unfinished shelf, but for some reason I don't. I know it is still because she is not perfect in my mind. Why can't I get over that expectation? Oh, those nasty expectations.......