Don't forget that the paintings you are seeing, the clothes walking down the runway, the album your are listening to, the book you are reading, is the end result. It didn't just appear one day, it's the result of a lot of time and work. Let me show you the process for my newest painting, STRENGTH, which will be part of the Arcana show at the Corvide Collective in Nashville opening Saturday, June 4.
This past March, Nikki, owner of the Corvidae Collective in downtown Nashville, asked me if I wanted to participate in the June Arcana show. Each artist would paint one of the major tarot cards, resulting in a collection of 22 unique pieces. I said yes immediately.
If I would have thought about what I was signing up for, if I would have started to let the usual doubts and worry creep into my decision I might not have said yes. You see, this is the first time I am part of a gallery show. Which is big. I could have let that monumental question, Am I good enough?, deter me from this opportunity. But I didn't. I said yes, and I decided to save the self-doubting emotional struggle for later.
The tarot card I chose to represent was STRENGTH. Fitting for this situation. Just because I've been painting since I was 5, just because I've done art shows before, does not make a new situation any less uncomfortable or nerve wracking. Especially when it involves artists who I look up to and admire.
Every painting starts with an idea. For this painting I was to represent something specific, so some research was required. From a quick internet search I knew the STRENGTH card featured a woman showing quiet dominance over a lion. So, I sketched out a woman and a lion and patted myself on the back. Hey, little wins deserve just as much recognition as big wins.
I wasn't sure about a lot of things at this point. The colors, the background, whether it looked like a tarot card or painting was all up for grabs but, I knew sometimes you have to get started and let the process take over. Sometimes you don't know all of the details or the end result when you get started. Sometimes you just have to start.
I let it sit in this state for over a week. I worked on other things while this sketched panel board sat next to me. I honestly didn't worry about. I didn't think about it. I just let it sit there. And then one day without thinking I squeezed some paint onto the canvas.
You can see from the image above I had started making some decisions, but not too many. I added a moon, so now this painting was happening at night. But that was, pretty much, as far as I got. I was thinking I was going to add some kind of a detailed border, but I couldn't see it in my head yet.
The painting sat this way for another week. In that time I decided it wasn't going to look like a tarot card. I wanted it to be a painting, a slight representation of the card. So I painted in the background colors of everything.
I didn't take a picture of it in this state, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Everything was one block of color, and it looked awful. The dress was a greenish blue color. The entire lion was an orangish brown. There were no shadows or highlights. There was no depth. There were no details. It looked like a kid's art project. I go through this with every. single. damn. painting.
I immediately hated the dress color. To me strength wasn't greenish blue, it was red. So I changed it. I started adding depth to the lion and I wanted to include all of the elements, fire, earth, water and air. I worked on the painting for five hours and got to this point. I hadn't touched the background yet and painting the eyes was... annoying. So I left them white for the time being.
It was starting to take shape. It was starting to become what I wanted it to be. I was happy with where it was going and then I opened Facebook. There was a post of some of the artworks from other artists also participating in Arcana. THEY WERE AMAZING! Like, ahhhh I'm going to look so dumb next to these super talented people.
So I closed my laptop, went outside, and I did some good ol' fashioned yard work to distract myself from it. It worked. Any type of physical activity is good before I start painting. It clears my head and I feel better, which I think, transfers to my painting.
After an hour of finalizing the background decisions, the colors, the mood, now it was time for the fun part. Adding in depth, adding in fun, bright colors. This is when I can enjoy a glass of wine, turn up the music, and have some fun making the painting come alive.
In total this painting took me two months to complete. I had a lot of doubts about it. I questioned my worthiness to do it. It might not be the best painting in the group, probably not even in the top 20, but it will be there hanging up in the same place as all of the other ones. I completed something, from start to finish. I didn't let any of the obstacles stop me, and to me that is what strength is really about.
Arcana opens Saturday, June 4 from 6-9pm and will be on exhibit June 4 - 30, 12-5 PM Tuesday - Saturday.
Corvidae Collective Gallery
11 Arcade | Nashville, TN | 37219
I'm Jackie, an artist, illustrator, and friend to ghosts, monsters, and aliens. This blog is full of DIY projects, stories, and things I think are cool. Stay weird.