Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Art for Africa ~ "Shine", a Painting about Identity

"Shine" 6x6 canvas by Sandra Martin

UPDATE: This painting is SOLD to a gracious donor in North Carolina. 

When I shared about the charity auction on Sunday, I promised to tell the story behind each painting in the fundraiser. Today I want to highlight "Shine", a painting I did last fall during a personal "mini retreat."

Like all the paintings I've chosen for the charity auction, this painting is an expression of my spiritual journey as well as my heart and emotions. It was created in a spontaneous way to reveal issues in my past that affected not only how I felt about myself, but how I viewed the world and other people.

I created this work as part of a class assignment that focused on inner healing for artists. We were to pick a time in our life when we felt our identity...the core of who we were as a person and artist, was attacked. This could be anything...a painful event or memory that causes us to retreat...to hide who who we truly were. It didn't matter how big or small the attack was. If it was significant enough to change our behavior to "fit in" or be more acceptable, then it was important.

During the painting, I felt the problems reveal themselves but then I also experience hope and transformation in the process. Sometimes when we bring issues to light in our heart and expose them, then we can deal with them and begin to heal and move on. My event focused on how people have made fun of me at different times when I wear yellow. It sounds funny, but it's happened more than once and each time I felt that it was attacking part of my identity. It caused a shift in my way of dressing. In high school I tried to do some kind of Hunger Games camouflage and blend into the walls with earth tones and drab colors. I wouldn't wear any clothing that made me stand out in the crowd. I have a photograph somewhere where I'm standing behind a small tree peeking out of the branches, wearing a yellow shirt, showing my attempt to hide from the world.

I remember when I taught daycare, the supervisors handed out t-shirts for a musical we were putting on with the kids. There were a variety of colors, but the supervisor handed me a loud yellow shirt. I wore it to the performance and sometimes to work afterwards. I felt good in that yellow shirt, and liked the title of the preschool musical, "Grow Me Up Like You, Lord." Little handprints surrounded the words. I remember wearing it when I visited some relatives I hadn't seen in ages. I was teased but some of it was done in a mean-spirited way as well. I felt crushed again, and secretly vowed I wouldn't wear yellow again...just as I'd done in school.

The root of the issue behind these seemingly small events wasn't the fact that some people abhorred yellow and "loud colors." Everyone has their tastes. It was the more the voice of the inner critic that surfaces when these things happened. I felt unworthy, unattractive, clownish...that I'd committed a fashion faux pas. I felt I needed to tame down my love of bright color and pattern to please other people, even though it made me feel good inside and out.

I explored this idea in the painting through the image of the dress. At first the dress is soiled, but I added more transparent colors until the dress shone and covered over some of the ugliness of unkind comments and feelings of unworthiness. The ghostly dress in the painting, representing me, is in a position of moving forward...not looking back at the past. This painting exploration taught me to recognize the lessons I've learned in the past, but to not allow myself to be planted in a place of anguish and despair. I also recognized that even out of painful lessons and events of the past, I can still find good things I can carry into my future. And I also learned I don't need to be afraid to shine.

I wrote more in depth about this painting, including the faith elements and Scriptures that were woven together in this painting on my other blog. You can read more here if you wish.

Don't forget to check out the auction and also stay up to date on my artist page on Facebook.
(UPDATE: Auction is now closed.)