When you face the reflection

Last time I posed the question of what your art was saying about you — perhaps even something you didn’t realize you were saying.

There is a flip-side to that. What happens to your art when you do realize it says something about you, especially if you weren’t expecting it.

I admit that ever since speaking with the gentleman in my booth which I mentioned in my last post, I have had a conscious awareness of the horizon line in my art. Am I always making a low horizon and putting too much sky in? In some ways, as I look back on my painting over the last few years, I realize now that I’ve been crippled by that reflection.

No, really, it’s true.

I haven’t been painting a whole lot in the last year. At first, I wondered if it had to do with my mother’s passing. Next week, it will be a year since she died. It was easy to think that I carried around guilt that weighed too heavily on my heart for me to get to that spot that I like to be when I’m painting. The truth of it is that my mother was very sick and in a lot of pain. She needed her rest. I have never regretted that her soul is free from the body that never quite functioned correctly. She lived through a lot, more than anyone else with her condition. She was more than a medical miracle, she was a survivor. But it was time for her to rest now before she became dependent upon other people to take care of her — she wouldn’t have like that and no one would’ve done it well enough for her. I knew all this in my heart, so I knew this was not the reason for my not painting. There had to be something more.

As I pondered about it, the scene with the man in my booth came back to me. At the time, I’d already been struggling with myself about my art: did I really want to paint sunsets and trees for the next 60 years? I felt I needed to take my art to the next level. Then I came face-to-face with a revelation about my art which I hadn’t realized was there and became conscious about it in my following paintings. Being so mindful of that, I didn’t realize that subconsciously I was losing the joy. Oh, once I get to painting I’m fine. I enjoy the process. But getting over the hurdle of actually picking up a brush and painting has been a challenge. Now, I think I understand why — I’m afraid to face the reflection of what my art is saying about me.

Truthfully, that’s a sad state.

First off, it’s a judgement. I think back to that quotation I posted awhile ago — “Each time you judge yourself, you break your heart.” — Kirpal Venanji

Secondly, how can I ever lose myself in my art if I’m restraining a part of myself? I am conscious of what “someone” might think. I am, therefore, not painting what I love with love.

Thirdly, I’m locked in a frustrated state of being concerned about what I think about myself while also being concerned about my potential audience thinks about me. It’s easy to let the negativity seep into your soul. It’s no wonder I’ve come to nearly a complete stop.

I am not aware of what’s going on in my own head, so what am I going to do about it?

I’m not sure I have a total answer to that question yet. I do realize that I must quit judging myself and letting the opinion of others sway me. I need to be wholly in the process. I need to get back to that place of peace and joy where I paint (and draw for that matter) for myself and not with a market in mind. I suspect this is a turning point in my journey. We’ll just have to see how it pans out.

What’s your story? Have you ever encountered hurtles in your artistic journey as a result of coming face-to-face with an aspect of your art being reflected back at you?

3 thoughts on “When you face the reflection

  1. It’s difficult when the motivation changes. It seems like part of the creative process is expressing what originates uniquely from who you are as an individual, and it’s not for others. Yet, others enjoy it (or criticize). It’s important and difficult to maintain that focus. Your art will always be a reflection of you, and that is beautiful. That is art.

    As for my own experience, I hate being misunderstood and criticized, but original ideas are seldom embraced or deciphered by others.

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