Artist, Enneagram, Bird.

Artist, Enneagram, Bird.


On a long drive last month, my sister introduced me to the enneagram, which my brother had introduced to her. Ask my husband, and he will tell you that the Hopkins siblings are an intense bunch. We do not do or take things lightly. This is no exception. If you are not familiar, the enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions using nine personality types mapped on a diagram to illustrates how the types relate to one another.

Certain none of the numbers would be able to describe me (classic quality of a four), I finally acquiesced to my obvious fourness. Fours are the individualists also called romantics or artists. We value creativity and authenticity, and can be in touch (or slightly obsessed) with our own inner workings. We are emotional and empathetic, prone to melancholy and prepared to read profound meanings into the coffee grounds spilled on our countertops or the way the daisy’s petals are moving ever so slightly in the wind. We want to be different and are not fans of conventionality. I’ll say it so you don’t have to, there are times when fours are exhausting.

I tell you this because it has shed a light for me on why I do so many of the things I do. Case in point: I once painted pelican after pelican after pelican because I was deeply sad and they moved me. Having lived nearly my whole life near the water in South Louisiana, I never really noticed them before. Maybe a better way to say it is that I never really cared about them, and then I found myself grown(ish), my life so far beyond my control, it sometimes felt hard to breathe. And there they suddenly were– everywhere. In the Bayou outside my porch window and flying directly beside my car as I drove the twenty-four mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain. Apparitions maybe– the holy spirit descending not to make all things well, but to make me well as everything I thought sacred went up in flames. 

I stopped painting them for the exact same reason I started– I saw them everywhere: every gift shop, boutique, and art booth boasting “coastal” or “local.”  When it became clear I was doing what so many other people were doing, the magic dissipated, and I stopped doing it. 

They still whisper to me– something like comfort mixed with nostalgia, a dash of hope. Having moved to the Mississippi coast, I still see them everywhere, and doing so still feels less like “seeing” and more like “beholding” even as I catch myself looking away more quickly than I used to. 

I’ve opened this post with one of my favorite pelican paintings from a few years ago. I came across it on my phone as I was scrolling for something else. Oh, yes, I thought. I remember you. Thank you.

I don’t think our personality types are the end all be all to how we must or should or can act in the world, but they can help us to see when we’re going that familiar route and can perhaps take a detour instead. 

I’m working on some new pelican minis at the moment and there are definitely times when they feel a little trite, but then I remember what deep meaning they hold for me and I paint on. What can I say, I’m a four. 

My hope is that I will find an interesting way to intergrate them into some of my newer work so that I can satisfy both my need to be unique and my need to tap into what strikes an emotional chord. Does that make any sense?

Let me know if you know your enneagram number and if its given you any insights. I’ll be sure report your findings to my siblings at our next, probably intense discussion 😉 

Comments

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

More From This Category

Painting in a series and what it taught me

Painting in a series and what it taught me

I have always painted in series. When one subject or idea strikes the proverbial gold, I keep digging. But not in some organized, focused way. I flit from this to that. Some series have lasted years, others hours, and I tend not to focus on just one series at a time. ...

read more
Two words I use every day (in my studio and in my life).

Two words I use every day (in my studio and in my life).

I’m not sure where I learned them, but as soon as I did, I realized how powerful they were. They work best to dispel my natural tendency to let a simple disappointment snowball into a full-scale self-directed character assassination. I can’t tell you how many of my...

read more

10 Things Saving My Life Right Now

In my 40th year, I have discovered the joy of lists. I make them on my phone, on scraps of paper, in my sketchbook, and now, here on my blog. Here are ten small things making a big difference in my life right now.  1. The Lazy Genius Podcast. A new discovery for me....

read more

Day 19. Letting the Light in

“Cracked” 11×14, oil on canvas Buy Now

Yesterday I talked about about Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” which inspired yesterday’s painting. Well, the line “there is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in” really stuck with me. I created this pelican with that in mind.

I start every painting I do with a cad red wash underneath– I want little pieces of it to show through the image. This time I was extra mindful of that idea. I used my palette knife and tried to keep the different colors and values of the bird separate– letting the little light of the red show through. The bird feels cracked to me. And beautiful.

What do you think?

Every painting this month is 20% off the day it’s posted. Just a friendly reminder 😉

Life Is Like a Box of Pelican Paintings

Life Is Like a Box of Pelican Paintings

30x40in, oil on canvas. Buy Now

The pelican above has been my arch nemesis for months. We’ve been fighting. My weapon of choice– the palette knife. His– wings that reached on and on forever. They nearly knocked me out.

At first I thought the issue was the background. I couldn’t find suitable colors. They were either too bold for the pelican or too flat, forcing him to star in the painting in a way he wasn’t capable of. He needed to be part of his space. Not sitting on top of it or competing with it.

But the real issue ended up being those blasted wings. Perhaps it was a subconscious desire for him to extend his metaphoric reach, but sometimes you can only get so far before nature tells you, “That looks weird. Metaphors be damned.” (more…)