This life we's strange, painful at times, but oh so beautiful.

I am a fusion dance artist and teacher, a fire dancer, and a visual artist. I draw inspiration from nature, music, and the amazing people that come into my life. I am also a conservationist who makes jewelry and found object multimedia craft type art in my spare time (when I'm not reading, writing, or lighting things on fire and dancing around with them). I love to dance barefoot on the beach, watch the stars move inexorably across the heavens, and to laugh with the people that I love. I am currently based in Greenville SC, working with Discordia Arts to provide unique and exciting entertainment to the Upstate.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Silk paint emotions

 Inspiration comes from many places. One of the things I learned early on in my life is that I'm happiest being happy. Many artists will say that they suffer, and that their suffering imbues their art with more feeling. I am not creative when I'm in emotional pain. Usually, instead of creating art, if I am hurting or upset, I curl up in a little ball and cry it out until I feel better. Sometimes I get drunk...yes, I know that alcohol is a depressant and that drinking to feel better doesn't work, that it's a horrible way to deal with my problems and that I will be judged for admitting it, but I figure that as long as it doesn't become a problem and I do it in the comfort of my own home or with people that I love and trust, then I can drink when I want to.

Every now and then, I have emotional pain that I can't cry away and I can't drink away, and it NEEDS an outlet. That's when I try to create with my pain. It never works. I can not express depression, loss, misery, or heartbreak through art. I express joy through art.
But I tried, and though the piece I ended up with was not as poignant or expressive as I wanted it to be, it did turn out to be a pretty painting.

And, most importantly, it did what I needed it to do, let me vent my emotions, take a step back from what I was feeling, and lock the pain away. I then had a few glasses of wine, called an old friend, cried some more, and woke up feeling purged, refreshed, and ready to get on with the art work that I do so well - Joyful art.

 I know that one of the purposes of art is to pull on the heart strings, so even though I do not often create art that expresses pain and the darker emotions, I certainly love others' work that does. Yet, when I paint, I am expressing joy, peace, a connection to nature, a fascination with imagination, and other generally pleasant emotions. I like to bring joy to others. I want people to look at my work and smile, feel peace, dream, and hope.

So, yesterday I put aside the darker emotions that I was feeling earlier in the week and chose to work on an idea I had been wanting to play with for a very long time - the wood nymph emerging from her tree.

I began with a sketch of the female form, focusing on where she would still be attached to the tree. When I transferred the sketch to silk, I made a few changes, choosing to elongate my nymph and increase the amount of hair she had, both for aesthetic reasons and because I could use the hair line down the left hand side of her body as a separation point for the dye.

When working with the resist lines, I am constantly trying to think ahead (like a chess or nine-ball game), I want to determine where the dye will want to go, how I will apply the dye to silk, where my color change lines will be, what techniques and colors I want to use, and whether or not I will have time to finish dyeing the area before the dye dries.

I was very satisfied with the outline of the piece, and started my dyeing with the leaves and some of the nymph's hair. I mixed 7 different shades and washes of green and applied them randomly to the leaves and some of the hair sections, then filled in the tree canopy with the same colors in spot dye application.

When it became time to fill in the body of the nymph and the tree, I started with the tree nymph's extremities, using a light red and brown wash and mixing in some darker browns. I wanted a slight textural contrast between the nymphs body and the bark of the tree, so I dyed the areas of the nymph that were separated from the rest of the tree by a resist barrier first, and then began on the arm, head, and leg that were open to the rest of the tree.

I used darker browns and some lighter browns over the top to create a patchy texture on the bark of the tree.
I then filled in the hair of the nymph with yellow and light reds. I checked all of my resist lines and then filled in the sky with a few light blue washes and water for texture. I chose olive and dark greens for the ground and used water to fade out the sections. I was extremely happy with the "rolling fields" feeling that I was able to create along the base of the piece.

Once I was finished, I let the dye dry and sat and stared at this silk painting for a few minutes. It's everything I wanted it to be, and more importantly, everything I needed. I feel peaceful again.

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