“Face to Face” 20×20, oil on canvas Buy Now

About a decade ago, I was chatting with a colleague in a writing program. When I briefly told him about my paintings and some of the trouble I was having getting into shows or markets, he assumed it was because my work was too “out there” for my monolithic town. Clearly, he had never seen my art.

I just read this part in Art and Fear that brought back that memory and named so clearly one of the most ferocious fears of artmaking:

“The dilemma here that is for the artist, contact with subject and materials must always remain unguarded. In making art you court the unknown, and with it the paranoia of those who fear what change might bring. But while fear of attracting the wrath of some southern Senator may cast a shadow on your freedom of expression, often the more vexing problem is catching anyone’s attention in the first place. After all, most people see no reason to question their own beliefs, much less solicit yours.”

I often question not that what I have to say with a painting is too dangerous or risky, but that I have nothing much to say at all. Ridicule feels far less threatening than being ignored all together. Art and Fear and this month of daily paintings is helping me to worry less about the big, overwhelming picture, and, instead try to approach each canvas and with a little more authenticity than I did the last, focusing on the present moment and not what might or should be. 

I think there is something about all that in today’s painting which features two loosely rendered egrets facing one another, although some distance away. Just like I’ve been doing all month, I referenced yesterday’s painting to create this one. I like to think one bird is saying to the other: I see you, you matter.

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