Mentorship Final Show – Artist Talk
Prior to beginning to paint, I had been plagued with self-doubt, self-criticism, and crippling perfectionism. When I finally gathered up the courage to pick up a brush, something about the act of allowing myself to paint spontaneously without pre-determined expectations, and then forcing myself to look at what I had created without judgment or comparisons, loosened the bonds of all that.
My life began to change.
It was a bumpy process, but as I continued, I felt limitations and self-doubt falling away. I began to feel a new level of confidence.
Even so, applying for the mentorship program was a giant leap for me. Up until the interviews with prospective mentors, I hadn’t shown my work to anyone outside my immediate family. The idea that I would ever have my work hanging in a show was so far beyond where I was at that I couldn’t even let my mind go there.
Over the past two years of working with Brenda Litman, my mentor, a whole new world has opened up for me. Brenda’s support and genuine caring was like a nest. It created a safe space for me to grow and develop my art, and also to grow as an artist and a person.
Every month when I brought what I’d painted to her studio, we literally spent hours looking at and discussing each piece. No matter what I brought in as I explored and experimented (which some might call flailing around), she always treated my work with the greatest respect.
She helped me see things in my work that I hadn’t known were there, and see the value in what I’d created. And she never let me get away with being self-critical or self-deprecating.
Even though I was a beginner and she had a long artistic resume with decades of experience, she never treated me as anything less than a fellow artist. I have infinite appreciation for that.
Brenda is an amazing artist, a phenomenal human being, and has become a dear, dear friend. I feel honored to have had her beside me on this path the past two years.
As for my work itself, I generally prefer to let my paintings speak for themselves.
But I wrote something shortly after starting the mentorship program that sums up my approach to painting, called Creating Without Limits.
What is creating without limits?
Exploring the unknown, the undiscovered, the unrepressed.
Expanding the physical space of this reality into the infinitely larger space of imagination.
Divining the soul.
Saturating the canvas with meanings and sensations. Or covering it with nothing but shape and line and color and letting the meanings and sensations create themselves.
Not being afraid to break the rules. Not being afraid to break your own rules.
Seeing what can be made without judgment, restriction or comparisons. Shaking off the crushing pressure to create for others instead of for one’s self.
A process of endless experimentation.
Creating in whatever way and at whatever level of skill you are capable of at this moment without the expectation that you should be any better than you are, yet trusting that you are indeed making progress.
The freedom to love what you create.
The freedom to see what you see, and let others see what they see.
The freedom to be you, no matter what anyone else thinks about that.
It’s about expressing the power of the self.
This is what painting has shown me. This is why I paint the way I do.
And as the mentorship cycle comes to an end, I can only say what I’m sure every single protégé in the program has said: “I never could have imagined how far I’ve come.”