I’ve been having too many thought distortions about new ideas that are on the horizon. It’s because I’m planning to make two totally different bodies of work, and the outside voices in my head are trying to stop me. They keep yelling at me about how different they are.
Since they are two completely different styles (one is semi-figurative and the other non-representational), the voices say that this is too inconsistent. They are saying that the art world won’t approve. They are saying I won’t get all of this work finished fast enough.
Fast enough for what or whom though? I don’t know. As soon as I finish this last painting for my upcoming show, I really have nothing but time.
It’s all about making decisions again, but maybe it’s not an either/or one. It’s about AND. It’s whether or not I carry out AND. Widening my options instead of limiting them, right?
Head, Heart, Gut
My head says a lot of things. Like, I should be “smart.” I should focus on one thing at a time. “It will be good for you to stay on one path at a time, for once!” It also says, “who says I can’t do whatever I want?” I’m an artist after all. There are no rules. And therefore, there are no consequences either.
Technically, I’ve only been able to paint a few pieces that sorta resemble what I’m going for in the first style. I did it with a portrait piece last year called, “I’m Here For the Party,” which I posted on Instagram this morning. It’s only a portrait though. A self-portrait actually. I even included my trans-surgery scar in it.
Now I’m looking to do more imagined scenes with people in them, predominantly taken from old family photographs. I spent the weekend going through all the photos I have and came up with a few good ones. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with this one in particular. It is my mom with her friends in Mexico in 1951:
Still in my head, I’m thinking of the second body of work, which is totally nonrepresentational and dates back to the beginning of the pandemic when I started making mixed media abstracts on grocery bags.
See how different they are? I still haven’t decided if I want to continue these on top of the bags themselves or attach them to canvases, or maybe they need a stiff backing of some sort. All I know is I think they need to be more built upon. Not that they should be busier per se, but I think they need more crafting to them.
My heart wants to get going on the first series as soon as possible. I’m excited and I’m hopeful about it. I feel like I can embellish the scenes by using a lot of creativity and imagination. I see the narratives in my mind and want to sling paint in an expressive way. Maybe I can take “breaks” from it by working on the second series to change things up. But it’s the first series that my heart is mostly drawn to right now, so much so, that I’m having a very hard time finishing my last painting for the show.
So my gut says to go for the first series all the way because I’m scared of it. I’m drawn to what makes me fearful. It’s always been a challenge for me to paint so loose. And it might not seem so, but it is something newer/new-ish for me. I’ve tried very little as far as painting “figures.” As crummy as some people might think they’ve turned out to be, I rather love some of them, to be honest.
I don’t have a good picture of this one. It’s old, but it’s called “The Miserables,” also an oil on canvas of the same size. It’s of my immediate family: Mom, Dad, Brother:
Another sorta-kinda figurative piece that’s more recent is this one:
This one is a favorite of mine for sure. However, because of the feedback I get from my paintings, I know which are most other people’s favorites and which aren’t. Other people’s favs are never the same as mine. I’m sure that’s common among a lot of artists though.
Personal Qualities & Resources
In making decisions, it’s important to know what kinds of life skills you have or if your intuition is off. The more therapy I get throughout the years, the more self-aware I am. I know that I am not money-motivated, which is a quality I can use to weigh into this choice.
I’ve gone with my gut before, painting what I felt was probably unpopular, and it wound up being a wise decision in the end. That was a perk if anything, but I obviously didn’t do it to make the big bucks. I did it because that was where my heart was. I couldn’t help it. I had to do it.
And in being self-aware, it’s also important to know who or what is influencing your decisions.
I do know that when I made the first few pieces on bags, my gallerist (Craig) wasn’t super thrilled with them. And I know I abandoned them largely because of that. Maybe he thought he couldn’t sell them, or maybe he just didn’t like them because of his personal aesthetic. But checking the facts, he said he preferred my more narrative works. He didn’t actually say he didn’t like them. So there’s that.
In any case, I want to revisit them now despite anything like that. I can always exhibit them elsewhere.
As for the figurative series, I am inspired by a lot of things, but I recently saw some of Mark Greenfield‘s latest work and thought it was, as always, risk-taking and brave. I admire that and I need, and want, to be more like that.
Therefore. I am going to listen to my gut more than my head.