Love. It’s not a word I use often when I’m talking about my art.
Oh, sometimes I might say that I like something I’ve created, that I’m pleased with how it turned out, or that I’m happy with certain aspects of a drawing or painting. At times I’ve gone so far as to say that I’m proud of something I’ve done.
But love? No, not at all. Loving something takes appreciation to a whole new level, and I haven’t been able to reach that level with visual art.
Surprisingly, the art I’ve fallen in love with has been very simple. First there was the stenciled and gessoed background I made recently. I loved it, and I actually wrote those words in a blog post. I called it a mess, but a beautiful mess.
And now I’m in love with this very simple journal cover. Now, you might find this decidedly un-pretty, and if you do, that’s all right. At one point I wasn’t too attracted to it either.
When I made this journal cover, I was not having an especially good day. I was frustrated, not so much with art itself, but with having too many things going on around me, too many little tasks to complete, too many errands to run, too many responsibilities to deal with. It was one of those days when I just didn’t want to “adult” at all.
But my “inner child” wasn’t faring much better. All of my frustrations were carrying over to the different art projects I was working on. I could feel that destructive rage welling up inside of me. I didn’t want to create art. I wanted to destroy it. As part of my on-going personal art therapy, I figured I’d better let the feelings out.
So I splattered ugly colors on a sheet of watercolor paper. I smeared them all together with my hands. I folded the page to create a sort of inkblot, and it kept getting uglier and uglier. Good. That was the point. This is difficult to explain, but sometimes I have to willfully and deliberately make awful art. Sometimes I still have to cry and get angry because I can’t create beautiful things. Sometimes I have to make ugly things to re-affirm all these negative feelings, visual reminders of all I can’t do. I know that sounds terrible, but as I’ve said before, you can’t fight the monsters you can’t see. I guess what I’m doing is making my monsters, giving them life, putting them out where I can see them every day.
And after a while, they’re not so scary. After a while, I can look at one of my ugly pieces of art and say, “Well, there were possibilities there,” or “Hey, it’s not really all that bad,” or just “At least you had courage enough to try.” Sometimes I can even laugh at one of those monsters.
And with this monster, I fell in love. Once I printed out the month and year tag and pasted it on, I stared at it in wonder. “I love this.” I actually said it aloud.
Maybe I love it because it’s real. It’s me. It’s truly who I am. It’s a representation of many hopes and dreams, acknowledgment of many painful emotions, and testament to the importance of never giving up.
Throughout the month I’ll be adding pages to my journal. Some will be watercolors. Some will be quick sketches. Some will be designs and some will be doodles. I’ll write out a lot of feelings, too, and along the way I’ll probably paste in a few pictures or share a few poems I’ve found online. And everything will be part of who I am, part of this healing process that’s underway, part of my ongoing love of art, and my journey toward becoming a true visual artist.