My young hands find fear; intimidated, jealous, and anxious of others.
They have a story. We all have a story.
These emotions propel the artist to find her paints—crushed, empty paints—tiny tin tubes exhausted of their contents.
And we, too, are oftentimes exhausted—the colors of our multifaceted identities daily mesh and manifest into unique depictions of those experiences we value most.
My canvass is bland, mundane; stretched taut by hands and primer. Its surface remains pristine until disturbed by the artist, whose perspective breathes life to colors reborn into new, beautiful hues.
Yet, to taint something so good, so perfect, seems a shame; right-angles on all edges, its smooth face inviting the artist’s touch.
But the canvass’ purpose is to be painted upon, as the artist’s is to tell a story. To deny such a symbiotic relationship would do both a disservice.
We are all artists; our bodies, thoughts, and crafts acting as media for painting our stories.
Some paintings are more readily seen—those which are deemed beautiful, or have a more impressive array of hues, tend to share the spotlight with those of likeminded artists.
Looking upon my style may find one an interesting scene with many colors, though the misunderstood nature of my work renders it hidden from the public eye. Though it appears to be well-received, it would never sell—a limited income restricts the colors I have at my disposal; a limited understanding of public appeal renders it unique but, ultimately, useless.
Under close scrutiny, one may observe the work of tired hands—a smudge, chipping, scars of paint-thinner wearing away foundation—but also the intricate deliberations of long hours invested. There lies a certain charm in the way the brush strokes are inconsistent, how the small splatters of color draw the eye to those corners which often lack attention.
Anyone can see that it’s genuine.
Am I a good person? How can I still call myself good when my moral code rejects my ideological upbringing?—I mix the foundation of Damaar varnish, Turpenoid, and Linseed Oil. This medium is mixed with every application of oil paint before meeting the canvas.
My fears and jealousies towards those who have the intimate, loving relationships that I crave—I slather cold hues atop warmer hues, pushing them further back into visual space; (should I use Phthalo or Ultramarine Blue? or maybe Raw Umber?) These warmer hues are too deceivingly close to the viewer.
The pains I feel as my voice is lost to those of normative desirability—I etch sharp, inconsistent contrasts of colors to demand the attention of viewers’ eyes. The edges of the palate knife twang as I lift it from the canvass, splashing additional color upon its surface. Though noticeable to the artist, this often becomes lost amidst the composition.
Regret towards silencing the overwhelming emotions that ache in my chest—I rub Turpenoid vigorously into the canvass, erasing unintended hues. If impatient, as often happens, the Burnt Sienna foundation reveals itself, arrogantly glowing at my errors. When it dries, I will smother it with another foundation coat.
Lost to myself, my identity, my future, remains a mystery—My monochromatic tones are glazed in color, graduallyadding dimension and realism. But, in doing so, am I denying the beauty of the monochromatic painting, imposing my own ideas of beauty upon it? Or am I truly helping it develop its own sense of identity?
For me, accepting these shortcomings has been a trial, living in denial of perfection—creating work which does not adhere to normative standards of beauty.
Falling short of expectations regarding technique creates a certain fear of others’ approval—the avant-garde feared by those unfamiliar with such a perspective.
It has been a challenging process, but I believe I’m growing fonder of my work.
Though my approaches to addressing, unveiling, and redefining beauty, desire, and identity may seem unusual (ideas which I seek to challenge on a regular basis), I think my work will draw an appreciative audience. Though it may never be a masterpiece, it will be noticed and, hopefully, inspire change.
But my paintings … I do not find them particularly beautiful. Admittedly, I often fear others looking upon them—fearing that the invisible, silent criticisms that echo while I paint will manifest through the mouths of loved ones.
A fear that my thoughts and experiences, the inspiration of my brushstrokes, when discovered by the people that I so closely cherish, may offer a reason for them to distance themselves from me.
However, I think that I can allow myself to be seen by those who I both love and fear.
And, thus, pull the curtain aside.