Here is my latest, titled Unveiled. It’s been sitting in my sketch pad for a week or two. It was NOT an easy free flowing composition that came out of some blast of inspiration. Instead this piece came out of scattered energies and unfocused thoughts. I was pushing myself to work, because the act of working brings me peace. Despite feeling creatively blocked and this piece being relatively painful to complete, I’m glad I stuck with it and didn’t just tear it up or colour it black, as I was tempted to do. In a sense its a reminder to me that the work serves me when I need it, just as much as I serve the work.
For a while I’ve noticed that the piece that comes after a piece that I really like, feels like this one did. I begin with a lot of expectation and then somewhere along the line I feel like it’s totally contrived and then rounding up to the end I push through to come out with something I have mixed feelings about.
However one thing I’ve learned when it comes to the creative process is how important it is to keep working on one’s practice, regardless of how interesting or futile it seems. Movement is important with creativity and like Liz Gilbert said in her TED talk, some days your muse shows up for work and some days they don’t. If you don’t keep working though, you might miss a good day.
This is something I drew tonight from a picture I took of myself. Notice that it looks nothing like me. I like drawing portraits but i hate doing them in front of people because I feel like I’m inconveniencing the model and I get a mad dash of performance anxiety. At the moment though I’m enjoying the experimentation. I admire artists who do really evocative portraits. So here I am trying my hand, first with some studies, and later with the full piece i have in mind.
Tomorrow I’m going to my first live figure drawing class. I haven’t drawn from live models since I forced my friends in high school to pose for me. This will be very different and though challenging – very good for me. I’ve always enjoyed figure drawing. My A-Level art portfolio focussed primarily on figures. People can be very stupid about nudes however. In high school there were many inane little girls who thought my nudes were naughty or perverse. It’s the most riduculous thing to me when people can’t look at the bare skin of a human being without garbing them in shame.
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?