This is a Painting About Laundry…

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And beaches. And managing other people’s expectations. And color, breast cancer, tenacity. It’s also about chaos organized, Peace and taking breaks.

Last night I found myself sitting on my couch in a pile of laundry I’d diligently done weeks ago but had never gotten around to folding. Art has taught (forced?) me to prioritize and laundry usually comes last. I re-wear socks a lot. Am I alone on that?

The mountain of laundry might as well have been a real mountain. Insurmountable. Like everything, I took it piece by piece. Caught up on a little netflix. Thought about how I can both manage my house, my career, and my family a little more effectively.

That’s where this painting comes in. As many of you know, I’ve recently started this group painting experiment. For those who don’t know, you can get more info here. Basically, I show up to an event and invite people to create a painting with me; in other words, everyone in the group “makes a mark” and I take care of the rest. When the idea was still just a baby, I tried it out at an event at my sister’s salon in Baton Rouge. It felt awkward at first. But then…

One of the first women to make a mark put a bright red streak right down the chest of the woman I’d drawn. “It’s for my scar” she said.

By the time I processed her words and formulated a follow-up question, she’d already moved on. But I can only imagine the scar she mentioned had something to do with cancer. Needless to say, I was moved. That was one of the very first “marks” in my live group painting project. I dare say it was a good one.

Several other people painted on the painting that day, but when I took it home to finish it off, it just wasn’t working. For weeks, I’d set it aside and then come back to it. Blah. I wasn’t feeling it.

Finally, I decided what it needed was to lose the image all together. It needed the texture all those marks had provided. It needed the bumps and bruises. But it didn’t need that figure– it was too literal. She’d still be there, just underneath it all. I’ve been working on some commissions all month and trying to navigate other people’s feelings and expectations about them. It’s tough. This painting became a release from all that. I returned to my mantra– “make a mark, let go of expectations.”

The final version created from all those marks (including the scar) is about all the things I mentioned at the start of this post, plus a few more. I’m seeking balance (ha! This painting kind of shows where I’m at– notice the bluish part is far bigger than the gold) but also peace amid the chaos. Peace knowing laundry is not life. It will get done when I’m good and ready (there are things far more important). Peace trusting that when people come together and share their experiences, powerful things transpire.

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Denise Hopkins

May 10, 2017

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