Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Not-Mural for Not-myself

Hi everyone!

There are some commissions and projects that exemplify the reason I am fulfilled by being a commercial artist – an artist that makes work according to other people’s visions instead of their own, in exchange for said other person's money.

 To back track, obviously, I do very much enjoy making my own work that is not for pay. Making my own work satisfies a deep wanting to see in real life, what I see in my head. Or, it satisfies the need to explain something, or tell a story about my life - to be understood through the pictures I make. Last year, I took 3 months off from taking on freelance work of any kind, in order to finish a series of paintings commissioned by none other than my very own heart. I painted a 10+ piece series about my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar. Making and showing those paintings allowed me to #1 express and release feelings I was holding onto, and #2, to explain the stories to other people. It was wonderful and I wish I could find the time and motivation to do more art for myself in between my day job and freelancing. But I also take a lot of pleasure in creating works for other people, and the painting below is why.

Because sometimes someone you know comes to you wanting to turn something sorta sad and dark into something empowering and uplifting and the way they want to do that is through your art – through your hands. I’m not going to go into her story, but my client/friend went through a hard thing, came out of if, and wanted to have a physical and symbolic reminder to look at every day. She wanted something to remind her that she is strong, and can be strong when different hard things happen later. She likes the ocean, warm colors, and the sunshine. She was so happy when I showed her the finished painting. Sometimes, I feel like I blow off people’s reactions to my art. While I appreciate the “that’s pretty!” I shrug it off more often than I take it in. But when she told me it was perfect and I could see how happy it was going to make her to have the painting, I felt it, for real. While I rarely stop to think about it, I know it is a gift to be able to paint things. It is more of a gift to be able to make people feel good, by painting things for them. And not just "good", but more specifically sometimes it's: closure, release, joy, calm, freedom - validation of the stories in my client's lives. Throughout my years making murals and commissions, I’ve occasionally painted things I deem “ridiculous.” When I take more time to think about it, I know that they are asking for the ridiculous thing because it will mean something to them. It’s about their happiness, not mine. But then also my happiness, by default, in creating theirs. For that, I’m going to practice being more aware, grateful, and honored.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Six Strong" Mural Project

Hi everyone!

There's not going to be much happening in the way of murals for a few weeks here (construction scheduling... predictably unpredictable!), but there's a lot of mural-ing on the horizon to be looking forward to! 

Today, I finished this sketch for one of the future projects that I'm most excited to be a part of. I was asked to be one of six female mural artists/street artists to collaborate with on one large mural in NE Portland (the Alberta Arts district, if you're familiar with Portland.) I am super honored to be sharing a wall with each of these five talented women! We'll each get one 4'x8' panel to do whatever we want with, as long as it relates to the theme of "female empowerment." The panels don't have to relate to each other in terms of style or color, or anything other than the theme. Instead, each panel is supposed to represent it's individual artist's aesthetic. You can learn more about the project on the Go Fund Me page here.

I was working with two main ideas to make my sketch:

1. The idea that feeling strong, capable, empowered, and independent, but also presenting as "femme", can exist together in the same person. Someone should feel that it's ok to identify as a woman and a feminist, and present themselves as traditionally feminine - or not - as they want. Break the molds, break through stereotypes, break the glass ceiling. But feel that it's also ok to paint your nails and wear pink and glitter along the way, if it makes you feel good to do those things. I'm not sure I'm explaining the idea well enough. Basically, I think it should be considered a legit choice to be a super badass and also glittery if you want to be glittery. Sparkle on!

2. The idea that we are strong through each other and through our communities. I liked the imagery that came up when I thought about women very literally, lifting each other up to positions of greater power and strength.

Hopefully, at least a little of those ideas, or at least positive, empowering vibes, comes across in my panel when it's done. I'm excited to paint this BIG! And extra EXTRA excited to use this much pink glitter on one piece. ;)

Happy one-extra-hour-of-daylight, loves.