"Your Normal Isn't the World's Normal"
acrylic, oil, watercolor, ink and coffee on canvas
When you are sick...your loved ones usually take care of you. But, sometimes...they can grow a little weary...especially when you are dealing with a long term illness or challenge. And this can cause them to say things...they really don't mean. At least...this was my case a few weeks ago. When you lose your tongue and your ability to swallow efficiently...it causes some problems managing ordinary things like mucus and saliva. (Sorry it this is TMI...but just being open.) And if you already have chronic allergies...this becomes a real bitch. A suction machine has become my best friend at times. One morning, as I was coughing and hacking....my significant other asked if, "This was normal". I said "Yes, I go through this most every morning, it's normal". Annoyed with the loud stinky suction machine, and how much our lives have changed in the blink of an eye...he said it, "Your normal isn't the world's normal". Of course I was hurt, and he quickly apologized and all was well. But, the phrase hurt me so much, that I wrote it down. I had a feeling I might need it someday...but I had no idea why.
During my year long recovery, I did some...but... not a whole lot of painting. I was limited to mostly watercolors since they were the easiest to work from a hospital bed. Once I was well enough to get back into my studio full-time...I've been trying and experimenting with lots of mediums and even styles as I get my groove back. But, I realized after I was sick for so long...that the one big goal that I wanted to achieve was to paint larger pieces for galleries. I've been a self represented full-time artist for nearly two decades. I'm super proud of that! Representing myself and selling primarily online necessitated smaller works since they were easiest to ship. Gradually I've been working towards painting larger. For my birthday...the same, mean, significant other that I mentioned earlier...commissioned a woodworker to make me 7 large (over 36"X36") wooden panels to reach this goal. ( So see...he really is a good guy).
I've been pushing myself lately by painting abstracts. If you think abstracts are easy...think again! I really enjoyed this process. Yet, something was lacking for me on a personal level. I needed to be more attached emotionally to the work.
A couple of days ago, I visited several Atlanta galleries with my good friend Leslie, a wonderful abstract artist. It was a celebration of sorts, because I had just gotten another 3 month all clear from my oncology ENT surgeon (aka, my hero). But, I was struggling with a sinus infection and a boatload of mucus from it. I felt bad, and it was difficult for me to join into any of the conversations at the galleries. My already impaired speech was much worse than normal. As I had to excuse myself to go to the car to use my suction machine, I realized that my normal certainly wasn't the world's normal. I was worried that I'd grossed my friend out, or even the gallery folks. But, I quickly dismissed the thought...and realized that if this is the worst that I have to worry about...who cares! I am so damn blessed to even be here!
On the same outing, I also realized that there are two types of galleries...ones who show gorgeous, flawless work to match and hang above your couch...and ones who show deeper meaning work with it's own soul. My work lately seemed to be teeter-tottering between these two realms. For years, I have heard people say, "Oh this would look great in my daughter's room". Or "wouldn't this look great in a nursery." I have reached a point in my life that I'm ready to graduate to above the living room couch. LOL
I came home from the day of galleries...and looked at an abstract that had been sitting unfinished in my studio for weeks. I wasn't able to get the colors and shapes to work the way that I wanted. So, I started painting over it. Thinking about how "my normal isn't the world's normal". Thinking about how I need to paint happy, colorful but...thought provoking paintings. Another good friend of mine, abstract artist, Casey Matthews once told me that you should never completely abandon your old work. I realized she was right.
I threw myself into the painting, heart and soul. I realized that losing my ability to talk and communicate well...just means I have so much more to communicate through my painting. I had always been shy and never spoke up before the "Big C". Now, that it took my ability to talk coherently...damn...it seems that I have so much to say! :(
So, I choose to do it with my paintings. And I will be brave and no longer hold myself back.
My paintings might not be pretty perfect to hang above a couch, or make it into a gallery...but at least I will know that a single painting will have a many stories to tell. And deep inside it holds part of my soul...in which no words are needed.
My normal isn't the world's normal. It is a gift on so many different levels.
I am blessed.