Friday, May 6, 2016

Do you ever want to turn into a tree?

What's the significance of a girl turning into a tree? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Why is it that every time she looks more human in this painting I get annoyed and every time she turns too unrecognizable I get equally frustrated?

If I am that girl - what am I gaining by this transformation? Is it oneness with nature, complete solitude from humankind, true expression? Why is it so scary? Is it because I'm losing myself: my softness, my uniqueness? I'm losing my limbs, my curviness, the features that make me - me. I have body sensations as a hand turns into a branch; it wants to unstick itself from this hardened mess. It feels as if I'm losing a battle to crazy glue... But then I'm gaining perpetuity, aren't I? No. Trees are as prone to dying, getting sick, suffering from cold and heat as we are, if not more.

So I'm sitting here marking pluses and minuses and figuring out which outweighs the other. But the main issue is that I'm still drawn to this idea, in love with this idea of a human turning into a tree. I even made a larger than life painting of Daphne in college that was stolen from the studio. What is there that keeps my attention? Perhaps this struggle I'm going through is actually my living through this transformation? In order to gain immortality of sorts you become hard-skinned, you lose bits of your genuine self. You don't know where to strike the balance.

I'd like to watch my kids quietly, yet be ready to step in at a moment's notice, not be paralyzed like a tree. This paralysis is really a paralysis of thought. I get stuck in this idea of fame, recognition, money making that I lose my genuine, original self. My limbs go one by one. Hands are so stuck in tree puss that they can no longer perform.

No, I want to be Daphne who hides in a shape of a tree, but not forever. She uses it as a temporary asylum but she's able to quietly come out of that masked existence and return to humanity. She should be able to do that. Trees are people that lost their way...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

If Henri Rousseau persevered - we all can!

It was going so well up until judgment day. There were experiments and free play. There was a sense of joy in discovery, a feeling a pioneer or a scientist might have mixing unconventional techniques and ideas. And after a number of compliments I decided I'll put this piece into a juried museum call. In order to do that, I needed to finish it that day and all of a sudden I froze.

All these preemptive feelings of shame of rejection, the nervous anxiety of anticipation overtook my creative flow. I couldn't put down a single stroke without worrying that it'll ruin the piece.

How is it that some people are such natural salesmen? How is it that their stomachs don't churn at the thought of criticism and disapproval? Why does the life of an artist have to be so full of punishments?

Yes, I can tell myself time and again that this isn't about someone's appreciation of my work. But that's a lie. I want to be seen, I want the attention these pieces deserve. I want them bought, auctioned off, hanging in museums. I want to be earning money as an artist. Why even after so many years in the industry do I not get the formula? Is my art too shallow, too impersonal? Do people need to bleed from the inside in order for me to succeed? You take what's most precious to you, turn yourself inside out and only then do you get noticed? Or does it have to be completely void of any personal touch and be an abstract blob?

I'm just thrilled I had read a children's book to my students recently on the life of Henri Rousseau, on his yearly rejections and his ability to persevere. If only I could have the same strength and not take this whole process so close to heart...