Staring at the big (30″ x 30″), white canvas is often the most stressful part of my process. How do I start? Where do I start? That very first mark is so important to me that I find myself in a battle against my fears and insecurities. A multitude of voices clamour for dominance in my head: “don’t screw it up!”; “don’t worry, be happy”; “trust yourself”; “close your eyes and make the first mark”; “trust your instincts”; “just do it and let your hands work, already!”; etc… It’s the same every time! I hear the light-speed and intensely elaborate debate between overthought and instinct, then my hand rises to the canvas and the first mark is there. When I let my mind go, the entire image starts to come into view in my imaginations and muscle-memory does the rest for guiding my hands.

The initial challenge given for this one was to create a self-portrait as “the artist”. In other words, make a selfie that reveals how I see myself as a portrait. Oh, boy! If ever there was an invitation to overthink things, this is it! I shared this conundrum with my mentor and she suggested I continue with the styles from the artists I’ve been feeling connected to the most: David Park, James Ensor, Frank Auerbach, etc… She also suggested that I make a group portrait with myself being one of the crowd. So I dove into research on crowd paintings and came across great ones from Park & Ensor. I have always wanted to emulate the carnival feel in James Ensor’s work, but realized in this research that maybe I have a disconnect between what I like seeing and what I like painting. Hmmm… I love looking at all sorts of art, even art I cannot or don’t want to emulate.

With an intention of painting myself as a spectator within a crowd, I drew these quick figures. I intended myself to be the small figure in the right background. That changed with the first layers of paint, but you’ll get more on that tomorrow…

Stay tuned…


9 thoughts on “A Crowd of Me – One

  1. Thank you for sharing! I know many artists who struggle with staring at the blank canvas and all of the feelings that go with it! I do, too, and also with the blank page when I write.
    And I used to teach pre-school and then homeschooled my two kids, so art was my favorite thing to encourage them to do! I haven’t heard of The Dot, but I am familiar with the concept. I used to love watching little ones draw or paint without abandon!
    And I have already been encouraged by the posts of yours that I have read so far. Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your description of your process of painting – I draw, write, and embroider. I think a blank anything whether it is a canvas, paper, or piece of cloth – gives the artist a moment to ponder and stress. Something about the purity of the whiteness maybe. I love Peter Reynold’s children’s book, The Dot. Do you know it? It’s a wonderful book about creativity and being brave making your mark. When I do creativity exercises with children I give them each a paper with a dot or mark or hole in it and tell them to use their imagination. Little children don’t hesitate – the take up the challenge and just draw. It is wonderful to see that there was a time we didn’t self-edit. Your work and writing always makes me think. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment, it is beautifully stated and I couldn’t agree more. I am familiar with The Dot, but forgot about it (which is surprising because it’s such a go to book in the art education I teach).
      You gave me something more to consider: “the purity of the whiteness…”. Fascinating! I find myself wanting to contemplate and un pack it through multiple lenses: aesthetics, fear and power (of failure and destruction), definitions of perfection and where they come from, even inclusivity, and understanding my experiential personality and my privilege POV.
      Also, it raises an interesting question for further research into Wabi-Sabi… so far, I’ve focused my research on the potential beauty that follows the act of letting go of perfection and the accompanying judgements of what constitutes perfection; NOW I want to consider what inspires our desire to change the surface and how/why we judge the surface as pure or in need of beautification.


    1. Fascinating. I wonder if all creatives go through something similar… the moment of decision to think or to act… the tension point of letting go and allowing the expression flow through, allowing the muse to speak through us. The point where we acknowledge fear and decide to let it go or resist it.
      I think I may have read something on the in the book “The Artists Way”, or possibly from something on Buddhism or mindfulness… not sure of the source.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.