I finished Divorce in Monochrome in November, but for some reason, it feels right to blog about it on New Year's Eve. This has been a long, hard year. I'm so excited for 2017 and the opportunities that a new year will bring.
I know that I've also delayed writing about this painting because I've struggled with finding the words to talk about it. This piece feels deeply personal, like a memoir on gessobord. A last look at my marriage of 11 years. Divorce in Monochrome embodies my perspective, my perception of how the termination of our relationship has affected my spouse and I quite differently. Whereas he looks onward, forward ho, I find myself rooted, taking a long, hard look outwards.
Have you heard of liminal space? It's a neutral zone situated between an ending and a new beginning. Liminal space is essentially living in an unresolved state; it is uncomfortable. This long hard look is symbolic of the time I have spent in liminal space, a time of grieving and self-exploration. I've asked myself a lot of questions as I painted Divorce in Monochrome, questions like:
How did I get here?
Who am I?
Who do I want to be?
What changes do I want to make?
These kinds of questions feel particularly pertinent as one year ends and another begins.
Besides my current personal circumstances, this piece was also inspired by attending the About Face show at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto, Ontario, in January 2016. At the show, I came face to face with Inez, a photorealist painting by Canadian artist Charles Bierk, that left me mesmerized and inspired.
At that time, I was studying at the Academy of Realist Art. While my training was focused on realist painting and drawing, talk in my school often focused on realism depicted in a more traditional or academic style. Photorealism, while not expressly discouraged, was not encouraged. In fact, my interest in photorealism felt analogous to craving junk food – something that I personally really enjoyed but felt I shouldn’t indulge in because it wasn’t “good” for me. But seeing Charles Bierk’s work that night felt like validation of photorealism – that it could be serious art in its own right.
Divorce in Monochrome was an opportunity to explore my own take on monochromatic photorealism, in keeping with the inspiration provided by the work of Charles Bierk.
To close, I have a list of materials that I read and listened to while I worked on Divorce in Monochrome. It's a lot of self-help books because I like that kind of thing. These sources have helped steer me through this challenging time or at least understand what I've been going through, and influenced the way that I think about my painting, particularly due to their discussion of liminal space and transitions:
Rob Bell, The RobCast, Episode 115: Seasons
William Bridges, Transitions: making sense of life’s changes, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004)
Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star: claiming the life you were meant to live (New York: Crown Publishers, 2001)
Carol Eikleberry, The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People, 4th ed. (New York: Ten Speed Press, 2015)