Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Perfect Way to Deal with Anger – Paint it!

 The Alliance for the Arts capitalized on the “angst” that divides people in this current political season. They sponsored a juried competition titled: “State of Mind: Politics 2012.” It isn’t the first time they’ve used a political theme, and it won’t be the last. But judging from the crowd on opening night, the strategy is still working.

I was fortunate to be selected for the show. Although I wasn’t one of the winners, I was the only one who represented the chaos in the Middle East. In my blog is a sampling of the diversity of subject matter and materials that were used.

Today, politics seems to be played like a football game; each side cheering for their side at all costs. In the past, more people seemed to vote for the person, rather than the party. At least, I did. I’ve been an independent, a democrat and a republican, depending on who's running. Now it seems that people support the party rather than the person, and choose to ignore voting record or the past of their own candidate. Instead of offering solid policies and solutions, there is more slander and mud throwing.

Historically, this has always been so, but the ugliness today is right in our faces and the values once cherished are no longer in play. In the show, it was interesting to see how artists expressed these concerns.

Putting your anger and emotion to canvas is invigorating and healthy. It allows an artist to express his inner turmoil and share either a vision or a torment with his or her audience. Van Gogh had so much suffering and discouragement in his life. He allowed people to see his anguish, his joy, his exultation and pain in a style that today is considered brilliance from an  unfettered imagination.

If you have joy or pain that eats away at your heart, try expressing it on canvas instead of burying your soul under a pillow of tears. Discouragement comes to all of us.

I painted a scene of two brothers on the beach watching the sun go down. I wanted it to have a magical feel, one that was almost fanciful and full of wonder. I submitted my painting to a critique group and they literally slaughtered it! There were so many criticisms; I had trouble absorbing them all. Only one person gave constructive criticism. I printed out her suggestions and kept them.

What happened to the painting? I was so ashamed of it I put it in a box with a protective cardboard over the top along with other stored canvases. I quickly forgot where it was. I opened that box several times over the course of the next year, but the cardboard I’d placed on top of the painting created a false bottom.

A year later, I found that painting and finished it according to the constructive criticism I’d received. Ironically, not only the first version of the painting that was critiqued, but the final version sold prints from the digital images online. I consider this a valuable lesson. Listen to your own heart and paint what you love. If you receive criticism, weigh it carefully. Take what is of value and blow the rest away!

Please share your experiences with critique and the value of belonging to an art league with us.