Koi Pond 2012 17”x28” Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel
Well, for better or for worse, yesterday I went ahead and had another round with this one. I was a bit thrown off my game today because the day before one of the women in the studio that I don’t know very well came up out of the blue and made some comment about the painting I was working on. I couldn’t hear her very well but I think she was saying she liked the painting better at an earlier stage.
Ugh - I would never say that to someone. I only ever comment if I like someones painting and then I often say I like it. I would never say anything critical, unless they asked me for some advice, and then I still wouldn’t be critical. Then a few minutes later she came by again (I was still painting and most people don’t interrupt when people are working) saying how she had heard from some teacher once that you don’t have to always fill the whole painting. Ah, no kidding. Who hasn’t heard that? This really irritated me. For one thing it implies that she knows more than me, which she might - with pastels - which is what she does, but she doesn’t know more than me about the way I paint and that is for damn sure. The way I paint is to try not to think of all those art school type rules, or to do the opposite. I just like to get into a vibe with my headphones on and paint.
I was annoyed all evening about this event. Sometimes when people have insecurities, they manifest them with a sort of “I know more than you” attitude. At least I didn’t engage. When she made the comment about how she liked the lines and then clarified that she meant the ones that were painted over, I just said, I like lines too, smiled and turned around. Then when she continued about not covering it all or something I just said well there’s no going back and didn’t miss a beat and just kept on painting. But it still got a bit under my skin. I think it stems back to having had an extremely domineering older sister and mother - try as I might, I still seem to still be a bit vulnerable to bitchiness! Please see my old blog entries: Why I Painted Three Women, B****** and Me 2, and More About B******! at my blog www.trixiepitts.net).
This is what the painting looked like before I went to town:
Well, maybe some may think it looks like a stronger painting before I transformed it, but I just couldn’t live with it . I'm not sure why, but I really don't think it was just because of that woman's critical comment. It was more than that. This one was a real struggle - a stretch for me, trying to paint the way I want to - with abandon, trusting the painting process and not thinking about what I “should” do next. Sometimes they come easily and sometimes you really have to work for them! Painting this way leaves you very vulnerable, but I think the rewards are worth it.
Oh well, it’s funny. When I looked at the image above right after that experience, I wasn’t happy. I reminded myself what emotional/psychological dynamics that I thought were going on with me, and told myself to give it a chance. But, when I went in yesterday and saw it in person, I just didn’t think it was where I wanted to be. So, I made the decision to let it go and just sort of go for it.
To tell you the truth, I do not hate what I ended up with! Actually, I really kind of like it now - a lot! After I finished it and put it away for a while and then came back to it, my whole attitude towards it changed. I find it (Koi Pond - the one Kabuki is obviously incorporated into it) unsettling because it is so kind of vague, and yet at the same time it is sort of bold in its insistence that it is worthwhile.
Okay actually, as I am writing about it and looking at both images and remembering what went on as I painted, I’m sort of pleased. I’ll tell you why. The first one, which I tentatively called “Kabuki”,” seems like maybe I could somehow get there again. Whereas the final product, Koi Pond, I just don’t see how I could ever get there again, ever.
Yeah, now that I write about it and connect with my creation, I think it has merit, if for no other reason than that it shows what it is like to have no alternative other than to be brave. That is the story of my life. Either be brave or give in. But because of my early experience, if I gave in I would have literally died - so - I never give in. That is why I paint the way I do.
As I said in my artist statement for a solo show I had in the summer in Greenwich Village, “... As a survivor of severe early trauma, painting to express my own uniqueness and not to please anyone else is already a major victory. When I paint I am testifying to myself and to whoever sees: I am who I am and I won’t be silenced!