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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

An Epiphany

Isn't that a lovely word?

Epiphany...

You'd think, growing up so completely Catholic, that I'd always have known what it meant, but I didn't discover the word until college. It's one of my favorite words.

So, as I said yesterday, I've been struggling with faces for quite some time now. I've tried all sorts of things: gluing down faces and painting over them, sketching them and then transferring the sketch to the canvas, painting them freehand--and while I like the faces I draw, I was never happy with the results when I tried to paint them. Last night, I realized what was wrong. Part of the problem was PAINT. I can hear you saying 'Karen, if you're going to paint faces, then of course there's going to be paint!' and yes, I realize that. But I couldn't get the paint to do what I wanted it to do. I couldn't blend and shade the way I thought I should, couldn't paint delicate lines... I was very frustrated. This led to the second problem, which was that I wasn't making something that had a part of ME in it. I was getting so bogged down in the whole concept of painting a face and what it should look like, that there was none of my soul going into the piece.

Of course, you've already spotted part of the problem in italics above. I was thinking about what it should look like instead of just letting the image happen all on its own. When my cell phone turns on, I have it flash the message "just be the conduit" and yesterday, when I turned on my phone and saw that it was like a great big light bulb went off in my head. EPIPHANY! I need to just let the faces happen. I don't have to be in charge.

I don't have to be in charge.

Say it to yourself. "I don't have to be in charge."

Wow. That's a biggie. All I have to do is pay attention to opening up to something bigger than myself. I don't have to worry about what the face looks like, as long as it's the REAL image.

I may not be making myself clear, but yesterday something very profound happened to me.

So once this huge idea got through to my puny brain, I thought about other faces that I'd done and liked--on quilts. Quilting Arts magazine had a challenge a while back for self-portrait quilts, and I did three of them. (Of course, I didn't actually submit any to the magazine, but that's an epiphany that will have to wait for another day.) When I thought about these quilt faces, I realized that because they were from fabric I had let go of preconceived notions about shading and color and shape and line, producing images that I felt (and still feel) are very potent and real.

My first coat of paint is dry, so I'm going to wrap this up. Just in case you missed the important points in this heavily italicized post, let me summarize:

...what I wanted it do...
...the way I thought I should...
...what it should look like...

...let go of preconceived notions...
...just be the conduit...

I DON'T HAVE TO BE IN CHARGE

wow.

4 comments:

Julie said...

Congratulations! :)

mcewen said...

Maybe we should make a club for all the little control freaks! Could end up being a jolly big club.
Best wishes

Kikipotamus the Hobo said...

Like Carla's saying, "Show up and get out of the way." That IS a tough one, but so very powerful when we finally GET IT.

Mary S Hunt said...

In the class I was teaching Monday, I had an art teacher...she was struggling with this very same issue. Realizing she needed to let go and be more spontaneous wasn't so much helping....she is continuing her fight with control as we speak.

My point...(and I know a person isn't supposed to point out there is a point, however)

We all share this issue to some extent.

All we can do is continue to grow from each experience.

You are so on track m'dear.