Friday night I watched a documentary called Black Fish. It’s a really moving documentary about the dysfunctions that develop in Orcas when kept in captivity By extension they spoke of the injuries and deaths of Orca trainers over the past 40 years. They spoke a bit about the intelligence of Orcas. Apparently they have a highly evolved sense of communal intelligence.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these animals and the pain that we put them through for our whims. This painting came from thinking about free Orcas. There’s something quite magical about them. I hope I’ve captured a sliver of that beauty.
I finished this piece last night. My previous post ‘Lost’ was inspired by this canvas. Since writing that post the canvas has been at least 2 other beginnings of very different paintings. The same major undulations however remained throughout. In this piece I used a range of colours I haven’t tried before. It took a while to figure out how they made me feel and how they’d fit in. I haven’t painted much with browns before so that was one thing I wanted to do when I started out. In the beginning the lilac tones were a happy accident and when I realized they worked with the browns it changed the whole piece.
It took a little while to realize where the piece was going. I was walking to work yesterday morning and looking at birds flying far off against the colour of the sky when it hit me that this piece was an abstract landscape.
While doing this piece my boyfriend said that I should try having a few canvases stretched and ready to go in the studio so that when I get frustrated and lost on one canvas I can just move on to another without majorly changing what I’ve started. I suppose that would take the pressure off the one canvas so I’ll see if that works.
Social expectation, misogynistic bosses and generations of mothers echo in my mind.
From my mother – brush your hair, clean your shoes, dress properly or what will the various men in your life think of you?
From Men – Look pretty or I won’t give you the time of day. Wear high heels, be charming to me and laugh coquettishly at my stupid sexist jokes or I will simply cease to see you.
From Society – Look pretty, dress pretty, buy more, make yourself up – it doesn’t matter who you are, provided that you’re trendy.
I look at women my age and how trapped we are in trend, conformity and social expectation. Consumerism meets patriarchal advertising campaigns and we think we are making individual decisions about how we present ourselves to the world, when in fact we are playing a game – falling into a scheme – often to our financial ruin.
How do I push past pretty? How can I step over into the sublime with my work? I feel like i skim the surface of pretty and hardly reach into the grotesque which is often the most beautiful to me. As a woman, how do i reach ugly, without my instinct to beautify it? How do you reach into crazy when I have built a world around crazy – I have corseted its miscreant strands and pasted down its wildness with a thick layer of beeswax. That step is difficult. It’s terrifying.
But my work is too safe. It’s like there’s 2 artists inside of me. The one who is instinctual and terrifying and then her sister who follows close behind neatening edges and mopping up muddy footprints. How do I get miss bliss to take a hike for a little while so i can get some work done?