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Friday, September 05, 2008

The Anniversary of My Epiphany

I'm re-posting my post from exactly one year ago, when I realized I could "do" faces--this was a HUGE breakthrough for me, as it opened the door for all 'my girls'--and it's been one year, today...

An Epiphany (originally published 9-5-07)

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.

6 comments:

Olivia said...

What a great post, Karen! I thought you'd been doing faces all your life :) xxoo, O

ByJane said...

I'm glad you reposted this. I needed to hear it. I'm just at the beginning of the letting go process, and it's mighty scary.

Andi said...

This is a simply wonderful post! Having discovered your art and your blog relatively recently, I never would have guessed that faces were once a challenge for you.

The first piece of yours that I absolutely fell in love with (Yes, Yes, and Again, Yes) captured my attention because of the face!

Brandi said...

just found your blog via kikipotamus. Gorgeous!!! And I adore the message of this post. Isn't it a sigh of relief, don't your shoulders come down a foot??

rock on girlie.

tammy vitale said...

Happy anniversary. What beautiful art you have borne into the world over the year!

BelleEnchanted said...

Thank you for this - it's so beautiful.