Happy Sunday everyone!! It’s finally sunny and beautiful outside, I hope everyone has had the chance to go outside and play this weekend!
Yesterday, I stepped away to go visit one of my best friends. When I got there, the baby was napping so we actually got to sit outside with some hot tea and have a really good, albeit intense, conversation. At one point, we started talking about common themes of our thoughts in regards to self criticism. My top 2 are: the feeling that my art is directionless and criticism about my weight. Here we go…
I’ll begin start with my struggle with a negative body image. This is something that has been an on-going issue with me since I was about 14. Around that time, my Mom started putting A LOT of pressure on my sisters and I about eating and “dieting”- often suggesting that we eat a smaller amount of food in order to avoid gaining weight. Let me tell you, that mindset and conditioning totally fucked me up in the long run.
The real trouble began when I started my first semester in college as a Dance & Theater major and I made up my mind that I needed to lose weight. I’m not even sure where I got the initial idea but before I knew it, my new weight loss plan consisted in purging every bite of food I consumed. Then I added binging to my purging routine. It became a system of discipline and reward, a never-ending cycle that took over my eating habits altogether. This turned out to be something I battled with for the entirety of my 20’s.
Here I am, 30 years old, and I finally feel like I am starting to figure out how to eat food. It took a while, but I’m learning how to eat healthy, workout according to my diet and say goodbye to a toxic “comfort” that I have had for 12 years. Retraining my mind on how to approach something as simple as eating has been frustrating. It makes me resentful that my role model didn’t teach us healthier ways to stay in shape. It upsets me how EASY it was to fall into something like an eating disorder. It makes me angry that I allowed things to get so out of control. All things considered, I have learned that beautiful things happen when you look at your body with love instead of hate.
The other area of my life that I am constantly criticizing is my art. A lot of times, I felt as though my art was directionless and too simpleminded. I felt like I wasn’t “saying” anything with my art and that was really disappointing. I remember journaling about that very concept and it hit me: it’s okay for me to simply want to create pretty things. It’s okay to dabble in 50 different artistic styles. Isn’t that the fun about being an artist: that there aren’t really any rules? And the only reason I felt like my art wasn’t saying anything is because I was COMPARING my art with other people, that’s a losing battle from the start. Now I recognize that my art is a way to showcase the magic around me, no matter if it’s an extremely detailed, trippy acrylic painting or a simple watercolor of a mason jar with flowers in it. My art, my rules.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube of Flora Bowley. it was the first time that I had heard the concept of “intuitively” painting and it seriously inspired me. That day, I ended up painting my absolute favorite piece I have ever done. To me, it is perfection and it is the only painting I will never sell. I remember feeling wild as I painted that piece, using my fingers to smear paint, throwing water across the canvas and dancing my ass off simultaneously. I suppose my goal is to create that connection EVERY time I paint. And I need to remember that when I don’t connect as deeply, that’s okay too.
So I beg the question: What are your top two self-criticisms and how are you effectively working on them?
This is the painting heavily inspired by Flora Bowley. It doesn’t look anything like her work (which is AMAZING) but the method that I used was learned from her.