An artist friend of mine recently uploaded a post on Facebook about the story behind one of her paintings. She described how she knew she wasn’t feeling “it” as soon as she sat down to work with the prompts she had been given for the piece. She struggled all the way though the sketching process and then decide she would try to see if the piece got any better with added colour.
I saw the painting, and I saw nothing wrong with it; in fact I would be so glad to be able to scetch like she is able to.
But then, we all have our own little inner critic to battle with at times. Yes, we all have this inner voice that complains about how the piece looks and how it is different from how we imagined it or how it doesn’t live up to our own (often unrealistic) standard. To not be discouraged when the critic torments us is a difficult task, and there is no shame whatsoever in walking away from a piece for a while and getting back to it or starting it from scratch later.
I have had two episodes like this over the last 6 months or so, a time that was more than difficult for a lot of us on a global scale. And for some it was hard and at the same time a lesson in how our personal circumstances can actually change depending on our own personal viewpoint. That is how the following girl came into being.
I have a difficult relationship the influence that the starsign Taurus has in my personal life: I am a stay at home mom to lots of kids (domesticated) and at the same time I know the longing for ... something else, more exciting, more exceptional, more... Hollywoody...
Basically a lot of the greener grass somewhere else.
But what if I can not escape? At no point during the day, not in mind or in body? And what if a lot of external influences and duties are at the same time removed like driving kids to and from school, listening to teachers complain about your child every single day, driving to sports things and whatnot? Take all that away, and you have
a.) a recipe for disaster
b.) an actual chance to see your whole family in a new light
When I noticed the opportunity of b I thought of this girl, in front of the moon because most changes are happening hidden and out of sight, and I gave her cows horns for the domestic influence of Taurus.
I had to really fight with myself and against myself to actually make the time for art and my own wellbeing. And as soon as I sat down and had her outlined and the first layer put down with NeoPastel watersoluble crayons and acrylics I knew she would turn out all wrong! The supplies I was using were not working for me that day and I hated them and the painting as it grew. It was so frustrating and demotivating, especially since I do not have a daily drawing practise and thus want to make all my paintings to turn out as well as possible. Also the paper I used wasn’t small either, slightly bigger than A3 and I did not want to have wasted a large piece of paper.
Eyes too large, moon not shiny enough, horns all the wrong colour! I hated every bit of her.
It took me until September 2020 to sit down and start her again, this time in watercolour, a medium I really favour these days, and with a slightly different colour scheme. I used white acrylic paint to enhance the moon and for the first time in a long while I also used pearlescent medium for extra shimmer. Then I added the butterfly lifecycle to symbolise transformation and finally collaged on a matching paper butterfly. I also got inspired by a lesson by Willowing.org and added the dark leaf border.
I love this lady much more than the first version, she is much better balanced and worked out, the watercolours were much easier for me to work with. And I am keeping the first version as a reminder that sometimes a painting doesn’t work out just because I want it to ;)
The next painting has a similar process story, but much much earlier beginnings. It started off with making pancakes with my kids and noticing the strange shapes on the pancake...
I was very much reminded of a skull, and I just knew I would be able to use it to show the influence of the ego on us. I did do some colour studies first in a way...
But when I started the actual painting I got very unsure about what paints and colours I wanted to use and even what I wanted to do for the background. I thought I would go for the inside of a carnivorous plant that lures its prey inside and then the victim cannot find its way out because the structure of the plant mimicks openings except for where the real exit is (underneath).
As you can see I did not even finish the first try. I used the watersoluble crayons and acrylics again and all I wanted to do was use watercolours instead. And different colours and a different background, basically nearly a different everything. It was really hard to get as far as I got the first time around, at least the paper I used wasn’t much bigger than A4.
A couple of weeks later I tried it again, actually exactly after I had finished the Taurus girl painting. I had talked about it with one of my sons who mentioned that flames would probably be cool somewhere in the painting and from there the whole thing really took off...
This last piece was done on a much larger paper than the first try, and I really love how she turned out. Even if her ego is trying to drive her bananas, the candle in her eyes shows she knows all she has to do is listen to the calm inside.
Sometimes it is worth it to listen to your kids ;)
And push through the inner critic.