As I've mentioned, I'm working my way through Tracy Verdugo's e-course "Paint Mojo." We're on the final week of this wonderful six-week course. Much of the content is centered around finding your own voice and connecting with the inspiration all around us to spark fresh, new works of art.
One component of this class is a week-by-week painting project. It is always difficult to learn from an artist with a very specific working style and NOT end up with something that looks like a mimic of that artist's work. Keeping this in mind, I followed Tracy's process up to a point. As the weeks progressed, I drifted more and more away from Tracy's instructions and back towards my own way of painting. Last week, our canvases had reached the point where we were beginning to look for something in the painting that was calling out to us to be brought forth. Students were finding soaring birds, elegant elephants, intriguing underwater scenes, ethereal ladies...in other words, lots of pretty things.
I tried to find something pretty, something "normal". I really did.
Instead, I found this fellow. He roared so loudly that I had no choice but to bring him to life. It is very important to note that although I am ceaselessly drawing them in my sketchbooks, I never, ever paint my creepy critters and characters onto canvas. Stretched canvas is so expensive that I reserve that substrate for my show work. (No, I am not able to stretch my own.) In addition, I've never considered my creature doodles as anything marketable so when I create work to sell, I stick with themes that are proven sellers. I love bird and animal imagery anyway so in the past, this tactic has worked for me. However, when this creature emerged from the paint, I experienced an amazing (and very scary!) change of mind.
I think it is time to take a risk and put together an entire show featuring my private passion front and center. Yikes! There is a good chance that this is a fool's errand. Let's face it: monsters aren't as living room compatible as pretty birds and elephants. This is really a matter of authenticity. I love creating creatures. As crazy as it sounds, they whisper things to me as they come to life. They tell me to play, to smile, to laugh, to be bold, to be content with who I am, awkward bits and all. I think it is time for my creatures to speak their truths to a wider audience.