Self-Evaluation and Accountability Pt.2

Working on concepts for clients in the garden.
Photo by Jay Byrd

The last year and a half have been challenging for most of us. Some of us have found ourselves in the devastating position of losing friends over ideological differences and the strain of coping with turmoil in our communities. People are turning on one another when they should be coming together.
I don’t want to descend into a discussion of who is to blame. I think it’s fair to say we have all stumbled at some point.
I want to do my part to improve the situation in my own life and my art. I have been unpacking a lot of baggage over the last few years and trying to correct my own negative behaviors. Sometimes I take a step backward or fail all together, but I am trying. I’m not always kind, and for that, I am truly sorry. If you have been on the receiving end of any of my bad behavior, I apologize whole-heartedly.

All of these personal reflections and revelations led me to recently re-evaluate my goals as an artist. In the early stages of my feminine beauty concept, I was bogged down by the idea that I needed to help other women feel beautiful. I truly believe we are all beautiful in very unique and special ways, but I am not emotionally capable of helping other women heal themselves. A lot of my frustration with the concept has grown from the negative view so many women have of themselves, and quite honestly, my own negative behaviors stemming from frustration.

I’m confrontational and judgmental by nature, stemming from childhood trauma and abuse. Because I feel a need to push myself as hard as possible, I often push the people around me and fail to listen to their needs. For this reason, I’m taking a break from collaborative projects and re-evaluating my artistic goals.
One of the biggest struggles I face as an artist is giving my ideas the space they need to grow and evolve. I’m always concerned with what other people think, how my ideas will impact a partnership, and putting my goals second to another artist’s vision. While it’s important to be able to compromise and discuss differences, I usually find myself squashing my ideas.

One of the biggest external challenges to this portrait series has been getting friends to model for me. I have a very diverse group of friends, but until recently, I have had a limited variety in my photo shoots. Of course, I shouldn’t presume to demand that my friends model for me if they are uncomfortable, or become disappointed in them if they aren’t ready to take the first step on this journey with me. I owe them the compassion of meeting them where they are and asking them what story they want to tell. I haven’t always been able to do this.
Over the summer, I had the wonderful experience of working with an older friend whose photos are gorgeous. I really love the energy and perspective she has brought to this project and feel energized and inspired by the references I now have for the series. Another friend who is an MMA fighter has also been a fabulous model for powerful female figures and unconventional mermaids.

It usually takes me several months to really dig into a concept. I’m well into several new ideas at this point. As I finish up commissions and subscription commitments, I am always thinking about the new paintings that are forming and look forward to putting the concepts down for new portraits. Expect self-portraits to become a prominent part of the series as I work through personal issues and limitations.

Photo by 12 Gage Photography

Now that I have examined my own motivations and negativity, I am ready to get back to work on the series with a fresh perspective. I have some things to work on still, but taking the steps to do better is already improving my outlook. I already feel better and think the work will improve tremendously as a result.
I’m looking forward to sharing new concepts with you soon.

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