Sunday, August 16, 2009

Out of My Bubble

It may seem obvious to the rest of you (but it's easy for me to forget somehow) that I can paint whatever I want. Within the limits of my talent and skills I can paint anything in any way I wish. But it's not that easy, to me. In my mind there seem to be all sorts of expectations and reasons crowding in around me, and the space is much smaller than you might think. Like what you can see in the light of a midnight campfire.

I'm unable to get beyond my small bubble of murky light. I'm afraid to trip over things in the dark further away. I don't want to get stung or bitten. I don't want to fall. I'm worried I won't be able to find my way back to the fireside. I'm afraid my nearest will not recognize me and their faces will reflect me a stranger.

Then events conspire to push back the boundaries or, better yet, the sun comes up for a bit and I can see further than usual. Further for me. I'm still oddly limited in what I will attempt, or in what I will imagine, but my reach is extended.

Yesterday I had a lot of pent up emotions, and it came to boil just as everyone else was leaving for a play. So I stormed around the house alone, moving furiously from one chore to another, moving things fast and slamming what was safe to slam, and cussing and snarling and enjoying it. And after about twenty minutes of that I felt surprisingly free to paint.

So I did this. And I worked on it some more today.

I don't always feel like I have a beard - my inner artist (when I catch glimpses of him) is clean shaven. And lately my eyebrows are getting crazier, reaching all over. I keep them trimmed, but I wonder what would happen if I let them go. So I thought of a self portrait with my facial hair gone wild, expressing more of me than I feel it does now.

19 x 19 Watercolor and a little white charcoal.

9 comments:

linda said...

this "cussing and snarling" must be going around and how you describe the process of being stuck within "the light of a midnight campfire" is so resonant of how things just are sometimes...that fear comes easily when we have an inner fire that rarely coincides with life and it's demands and yet seems to demand a continual attention to keep it alive--at least for me...another brilliant self portrait, steve and those eyebrows make me want to do it too, believe that how you will!

you must shave your beard as I cut my hair -- short -- it was freeing and took me 7 years but now, I feel lighter somehow, like all that hair was in my eyes and mouth and nose, almost hiding me within it's mass...or else I just needed a haircut really really badly and finally managed to figure that out.
xo

Summer Kinard said...

This is awesomely gleeful. You keep packing so much joy and self-knowledge into these recent paintings. It's inspiring because it's right on the edge of that light.

Utah Savage said...

Welcome back.

You know I love self portrait. In all my writing I tend to focus inward with the story and words chosen to move the story around as the paint that makes it vivid and true. I like honesty, even if it's a phantasy honesty, the illusion of truth.

Odd Chick said...

i'm so inspired right now I could just sit down and paint if I didn't have my grandkids right now!! I love how you took your pent up emotions and let them flow into the page to make a magical, insightful, absolutely brilliant self-portrait. you are definetly my wizard of odd!!

Steve Emery said...

Linda - thanks for the understanding. I have a weird relationship with my beard - something I wear rather than something that is part of me... My Dearest, however, does not have any ambivalence about my beard. I have shaved it off, and she so much prefers it on and I like to please her in that. Plus I now have neck that makes my chin look weak without the beard, so some male vanity plays into this, as well.

Summer - I do feel like I am painting on the edge of a discovery, and a place. I love that. Thanks for seeing it.

Utah - after Linda I think I value your thoughts most about my self portraits, because of your own deep talent in that area (in paint and in words) and because of your savage honesty.

Odd Chick - How lovely to be made the Wizard of Odd. This portrait is just the start. No idea where this will go. I feel like this was a first simple step into an ocean, and I may soon feel like this was just timid wading...

tammy vitale said...

haven't been thru for a while, so thought I'd come visit. Never disappointing! Always inspiring - love the Wild Man!

June Saville said...

Such a free painting Steve. The sky's the limit - and don't forget it!
June in Oz

Pagan Sphinx said...

Wow. I really see you. What an incredible self-portrait.

I think you are a very charmed person. As as anyone who understands a bit of magic would attest to, charm is an amalgamation of humanness and serendipity. And lots and lots of emotions.

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