I always find it highly entertaining how threatening some people can find my art. Which is hi-larious considering my subject matter. I paint landscapes and people for heaven’s sake. Not skulls and death masks.
I’ve been informed by some that my work is ominous and dark, grim and wintry. I’ve learned not to take this personally anymore – it’s just a matter of Right and Wrong people for my work.
For example, some art is just too damned happy for me. I can’t do the whole puppies frolicking with small children thing. It triggers my gag reflex. But for some people, they love their puppies and small children just fine thankyouverymuch. And that’s great, because they know what makes them happy.
I think the difference is, I love the messiness of life. I love its rawness – raw emotions, raw experience. It’s not that I’m a thrill seeker, but I’m also not content to just sit on the sidelines and let life pass me by (I spent far too long doing that). I want to jump in and get dirty, so to speak. I want to feel like I’m really alive. Which also means scaring the pants off myself by doing things I don’t know I can actually pull off.
I’m also not very good at being Miss Positivity Pants. My life has not been a fairytale. (Whose has?) There was no silver platter. I’ve visited the dark parts of myself and we’re on pretty good terms. My life, and my story are so entwined with my art. I could never extract my experiences from what I create. Sometimes my darkness shows up in my art. I never mean for that to happen, but I can’t seem to stop it either.
I can’t sit around and pretend that the dark side of life doesn’t exist.
Hell, the dark side is interesting – it’s where a lot of the good, gooey stuff is. It’s where some of the best and greatest art came from. You can’t tell me Caravaggio painted his works because he was always feeling so jolly.
Pain burns but it can also burn away the chaff and leave beauty behind. There is a special kind of beauty in the darker parts of life. There is a haunting, fragile, ethereal kind of beauty in mists and storms and crashing seas. It’s not Cover Girl beauty, but it’s the beauty I love. It’s the beauty that speaks to me.
I want to go out into the storm and feel the wind wail around me, whipping my hair into knots and searing my soul. Sometimes when the wind blows hard enough, it feels like it goes right through the centre of me, and then I am the wind. I am connected, powerful, exhilarated.
There is something vulnerable in that beauty as well – there’s no hard shiny shell of fake smiles to hide behind. Light and joy sit next to darkness and bitterness. All of us is exposed in the art that intersects that place.
I think that’s why I only paint sunrise and sunset. It’s that precarious and beautiful balance between lightness and darkness, beginnings and endings, sun and moon and stars. It is the in-between-time, where the light is golden and glorious and wondrous things can happen. Transitions are where the magic happens.
It’s about the moments where we change, where we are transformed. Where we turn the darkness to light or the light to dark. Does it matter which way we go? Does darkness mean evil, or does darkness just mean a turning inward? Does it just mean the darkness of winter, where your soul lies fallow, incubating, waiting for the next period of transformation when the sun bursts out and changes things all over again?
So when I paint my moody sunsets, I am trying to capture moments of transformation & metamorphosis. I am trying to pack that overwhelming, overpowering feeling of wonder and change and fear and pain and bliss and joy all into one single painting.
I am trying to create eternal transformation.
And I think I fail every single time.
Paint can’t reproduce life. I’m fighting a losing battle, but I don’t care. If I manage to capture just one single iota of the brilliant messiness of life, then I’m happy. Then I’ve done something worthy.