Sarah and Jareth
Hi hi hi!
New year new me! Even though we are two months into 2019, I had a rough go of my first year focused on painting, which I haven’t been able to do since grad school in 2011. I’m going to be better about writing, posting things to my Artfinder shop, and working on paintings/drawings in a productive way. Work smarter, not harder. But also, harder, let’s be real.
I still cringe when I look through the past few years of paintings. I spent so much time on them and some of them are absolute garbage. There was even a moment when I was sat on the floor of my studio and gleefully wiped out ten or fifteen paintings with oil ground. My best friend/studio mate watched on quietly and didn’t say anything until a few days after the demolition. She just said “sometimes you need a fresh start, I get it.”
Let’s take a look at two paintings I spent a year and a half on, that are now rolled up in a corner of my studio.
“Three Brides” started out a mess. The Narrative of the painting was not worked out yet. I knew my character Inanna/Asarte was the central figure to my “hero’s journey” story, but I didn’t quite know how to incorporate this scene with that narrative. The muslin wrinkled as soon as I toned the canvas. I had to use my best friend/studio mate’s iron to try to smooth out the wrinkles. My husband was away in Italy or Cincinnati (idk he was gone a lot lol) and was yelling at me via text to use a low heat and be extra careful. It wasn’t working and I’m an impatient woman. I turned the up heat on that bitch and it worked. Yay!
Boo, then I did a gross underpainting because I was trying to be more structured with my life/painting. All of the color absorbed into the brown underpainting and the colors were always a little sad looking. All of this technical stuff I knew In the back of my mind, but I wasn’t listening to it. I had to go back to my Bhuddism phase in my 20’s (I still like to visit it again a lot, it helped me through a really dark time) and remember my mindfulness training! I work best when I like the painting color relationships and the subject. My painter friend Haniya made a really amazing comment when she saw “Three Brides”
“You love this model, and you aren’t interested in these models.” - Haniya
I did! I do! I wasn’t interested in anyone but Candis! I love Candis! She’s my muse for my Hero’s Journey/Inanna in the underworld series. The other models were stock photographs of girls who I thought were pretty. I don’t have a relationship with them. Going forward I’m going to try to stick with models that I know IRL.
The progression is kind of fun to look at though. There were a lot of moments where I was though “I like painting fabric, why didn’t I spend more time on the fabric in the beginning?” or “I love cats, why are painting these cats so painful?” I could write more on all of the thoughts that went through my mind, but it’s better to just show the progress.
Documenting the painting process has been super helpful. Now that I have distance from the this painting I can pinpoint moments where I should have left things alone, or worked with more intention. Always work with more intention, because, why not, why else are you doing what you are doing?
Then came “Ninhursaag Creates Animals.” It started out as a love letter to Hayao Miyazaki, one of my favorite artists and then became its own narrative. I created the image two years ago and was pretty attached to the composition. I really really wanted it to work out. Kind of like a relationship that you have been stuck in, but think you need to make it work, but it’s not working, like Sarah and Jareth in “The Labyrinth.” (Jim Henson, 1986)
Here are some progression pictures that I really like looking at. You can pinpoint where things work and where things go off track.
I felt like Sarah in “the Labyrinth” at the end of the movie. She kept getting stuck on weird staircases and couldn’t get to her baby brother Toby. Jareth kept egging her on and pretty much told her to stay with him in the end. (If you haven’t seen “Labyrinth” quit reading this and watch it now, it’s a masterpiece.) But this painting is Jareth! I can sum up how the painting felt with this quote:
“Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for *you*! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me. Isn't that generous?” - Jareth/Painting
And then I counter back:
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great... You have no power over me.” - Sarah/Me
After Jareth/Painting had no power over me anymore I played around with color on the animals and felt better.
I “finished” these paintings around January, and spent most of February working on new stuff I’m excited about. The first big paintings I’ve worked on since 2011? yay! 2018 was spent learning how to structure paintings better by fucking up. How else are you going to learn? My yoga DVD instructor Travis always says stuff like “You learn more from falling,” which is nice!
Also, I’m really really going to try to do one or two posts a month. I think I can do it!