Who Am I in This Crowd?

It’s time for a change.  No more interviews.  Just me and what I have to share.  I want to write about my art.  That’s what I feel like doing.  I’ll write about each piece as I complete it, and sometimes write about some of my earlier work.  Maybe.

Who Am I in This Crowd? 
40″ X 45″ Acrylic, Ink & Pastel on Canvas

Today, I’m going to say a few words about my latest piece,  Who Am I in This Crowd?  The piece started with me deciding that I want to tackle faces.  Until now I’ve primarily wanted to leave faces blank or abstract.  That interested me, partly because I don’t always know who I am. Yes, that’s true. I go about my life doing the best I can in all the roles I play but there is a serious disconnect. I’m working on that.

I’m not going to sit around and bellyache about my childhood or blame other people for this or that. At this point, I’d just like to say that I have an internal struggle.  It’s fierce and fiery; it has caused me personal issues for as long as I can recall. It began early in my life.

So why faces now?  Well, my brother died on July 2nd.  He was the one person who acutely understood my internal struggle because he shared it in a specific way that always made me feel less lonely, more understood, and more hopeful. He always seemed to hold it together when I was internally falling apart. Now, I’m still here and he is gone. Let’s just say … he didn’t make it out alive. But I am going to. I’m determined; I have started to work harder at it than I ever have, to sort out my own identity once and for all.

Toward the end of 2012, I began to feel that I could find faces within the canvas, create faces with my fingers (that’s how I paint), that I can believe in. So I began to do more faces in the fall. Once the new year hit, I knew my path.  I finished two pieces, False Dichotomy and She Escapes Me, and then decided to do a larger piece with more faces. It would be a way to experiment more quickly.

I usually begin with a concept in mind. It could be a loose image, a color element, or an emotion. Then I build on it until it sort of reveals itself to me.  It eventually tells me what it wants to be. Of course, I realize it’s my own subconscious, but that is the beauty of it.  I use the work to understand myself, in that way, rather than understand myself and then paint something about it.

I began Who Am I in This Crowd? with three faces. Early on I painted a man and a woman and a disapproving sort of face to the top right looking down toward them, and I wondered if I was painting about my marriage, and the people who meddle in it in various ways.  As I continued, driven by my visual and emotional instincts, more faces began to emerge, each one different, each one capturing a glint of personality.  As I painted on, I found myself wondering which one was me, not necessarily based on how they looked, but instead based on the flash of humanity I saw in them, that I created and then found.

So I kept painting until I was finished.  Near the end, I began thinking about a title and trying to figure out what the piece meant to me. What it was telling me.  I thought a lot about naming it People Who Need People, but I knew that wasn’t right.  The morning after I finished, I was getting ready for work, thinking about it. Suddenly, with a certain type of passion, I asked myself, “Who am I in that crowd?”

And I knew that was it.  I realized that the whole thing was indicative of what I’m going through, how I’m struggling to understand, once and for all, who I am as an individual in the mix of all the unique people around me. I see their individuality and I want my own. I don’t want to take on theirs. I don’t want the burden of feeling that it’s my job to smooth things over with everyone in every situation. I don’t want to feel that they are right, and I am most certainly wrong, that they are all surely better, smarter, wiser, more talented, kinder, gentler.  That they know what is best for me.

I want to know what is best for me.

Maybe you relate to this; maybe you don’t.

When I look at the piece, it makes me search.  I search the faces and look for myself.  I am there somewhere.  I just know it.

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