Voices was a new experiment for me. First, I had never painted a portrait based on my actual image. I’ve always used photos from magazine articles or ads as the basis for my portraits, while the meaning behind the images created the autobiographic/memoir element of my works. Second, I’ve never sketched or painted the same image more than once. Voices broke both of these boundaries.

I began taking selfie photos on Instagram in black and white using varying facial expressions. These were not meant to be pretty, smiling photos. Instead, I wanted to record certain emotions I was feeling at a point in time and translate that into a self-portrait painting. This turned out to be a little tricky because it seemed odd to paint a realistic portrait of myself, so I began to play with blurred lines and softer edges – different than the style I’ve used in my previous portraits. The blurred style felt more comfortable to me when painting a true self-portrait from a selfie photo, because it can be difficult to examine oneself in an objective, detached manner. I felt the blurred edges and exaggerated features captured more of my essence and emotion than would a concrete physical likeness.

The concept of Voices comes from my frustration and inner adjustment of so badly wanting my artwork and stories – my Voice – to be seen and heard, especially after experiencing rejection from two art exhibits in recent months. I’ve only been working on my art and writing in a dedicated, this-is-no-longer-a-hobby manner in the past year. Not a lot of time, I realize, but in order to move ahead and get a toe through the art world door, I must showcase my work beyond my website and walls of my home. This is not an easy task. I feel I have something to say – something valuable – but my Voice won’t get far if I’m not recognized by someone outside of my mind who agrees with my opinion.

That’s what the stern image on the left side of Voices represents. The eyes are intent, almost angry, because of my frustration of not yet breaking through. My Voice is blocked and obscured by white lines – almost like being behind a block of ice where no one can hear me shouting, This is my work – listen to my message! The stern image contains two mini-selfies collaged onto the painting. A questioning, determined selfie is in the Third Eye/intuition position on the forehead – I’m constantly searching for the next idea, the next attempt of how to get my work noticed. A blue, despondent selfie is collaged on the throat/self-expression position. I took this selfie after an art exhibit rejection when feeling very defeated and sad. This is how I feel when I can’t seem to be heard – my Voice is repressed.

The softer, more peaceful image on the right is a painting of the happier mini-selfie collaged on the portrait’s Third Eye/intuition position on the forehead – so both painting and selfie are from the same image. The obscuring white lines have vanished, and even though I haven’t achieved an exhibition yet, I’m working from a place of clarity and hope that I’m following the correct path – it will just require Divine Timing and perseverance.

A friend sent me an article about The Long Game, which states that Leonardo da Vinci experienced 16 “loser/difficult years” of not being recognized for his talent until the age of 46 when he completed The Last Supper. During these “difficult years,” he continued to practice and hone his craft, never giving up in defeat. The moral of the story is that creativity isn’t a fast, immediate-gratification venture, even though that’s what our high-tech culture seeks today. Most of history’s accomplished artists, writers, scientists, etc. have struggled through years of failure and trying again before achieving success.

I’m in my “loser” period now, but someday…someday my Voice will resonate.

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