Update 4

In my last post, I talked about how I was struggling with how to plan out my paintings. I felt like I was really trapped trying to express something linearly that doesn’t feel linear in my head. In order to organize my thoughts better, I decided to sketch out the images I felt interested in on individual pieces of paper, and then arrange and rearrange them until I found some configuration that felt right. However, that still didn’t address the issue of not knowing what kind of message I wanted to send, so after I sketched everything out I met with one of my friends and asked him for advice. When I get stuck I find it really helpful to discuss it with someone because even if they can’t necessarily give me artistic input, talking through a problem with someone else can make the solution more apparent.

 

Talking with my friend, I told him that in painting pictures of my dead friend interspersed with pictures of things I’ve seen and experienced in Japan, I want to express that I’m still thinking about her all the time. She’s dead, but I think about her every day: when I’m on the train, when I meet new people, cooking dinner. Another aspect is that I wish I could show her these things, share them with her, but I can’t so instead I will paint it. The order is really important to me because if I show images related to her death at the end of the sequence, the focus would be put on her being gone. If I only include images of her as I remember her, then the focus is oriented on the past, which would defeat the whole purpose of keeping her present in my life. What my friend suggested I do (and what now seems like such an obvious solution) is to put the image of her death at the beginning, and then everything else will flow from that.

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Small drawings I used to experiment with different arrangements

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The general order I decided on (starting on the top row going from left to right)

painted some floating bodies

my initial setup

my initial setup

mostly indecipherable blobs

Usually painting feels really easy to me, but for some reason starting to paint made me feel kind of trapped. I wonder if this is really what I want to be doing if it feels so unnatural. I think a lot of it is I feel really uncomfortable in my technique. I’m constantly worrying about if it’s okay for the texture of the canvas to show through and what if I don’t mix enough paint and what if the colors don’t work well together. Then when I manage to get the paint down I feel dissatisfied with the texture from using a brush so I go back and use a knife, which seems more precise and less precise at the same time, and I can’t decide if the way I’m painting is the way I want to be painting.

 

When I draw, I know how to translate what I see onto the paper. I know how to build it up. I know how far to take it. And I can see the flaws clearly. With my painting for some reason when I reach a stopping point I don’t feel confident about it. I don’t trust my feelings and that makes it really hard to move forward. I think in order to get rid of this anxiety I need to change my goals. If I look at what I’m painting now as more of an exercise leading up to some other painting I will start later then I’ll be able to actually do something, regardless of whether I end up doing a separate kind of final painting. But of course for now I’ll convince myself that I will do a concluding painting later. And actually I really like that plan so that’s the real plan now.