I was discussing the nature of why many people fear the dark. In particular, this conversation was about how someone overcame their fearof the dark once they embraced the fact that they had seen through certain false paradigms which they had clung to for the majority of their life.
As I ruminated on this, it occurred to me that I have always embraced certain dark themes in my own life and artwork, and here is what followed from my thoughts;
In heraldry, colors have associated meanings. The color black is not associated with evil or anything like that; it is associated with mystery and the unknown.
That is what the dark is; the unknown. To fear the dark is to fear that which we do not know.
Once you become comfortable with the idea that really, we don't know much of anything and that it is okay not to know, it should come as no surprise that you would no longer fear the dark. You have conquered your fear of the unknown by admitting that it exists but can not harm you. We all exist within paradigms that are faulty, but acknowledging that we all actually live in the dark is the first step towards lighting a spark of understanding; as Socrates admonished, all true wisdom begins with the understanding that we know nothing.
The light shows us what is there, whether it is good, bad, or ugly. But it won't make the ugly any prettier, and it won't make the good any better, nor will it make the bad less bad.
The future is always unknown. Even the wisest of women and men will acknowledge that life itself is, ultimately, a great mystery. Thus, life is best signified in heraldry by the color black. We are all journeying into the great unknown; you can either face this dark uncertain future with fear, or with the comfort of understanding that, although we don't know why, all is as it should be.
Yes, I know, I haven't made a real valid update here since, what, March? Well, if you read below I'm sure you'll see part of the reason why. I don't want to wax too personal here, but in a nutshell my life has been turned upside-down in several different ways, but I'm getting my bearings again, and usually I pick up productivity going into the Autumn season anyway. So, here's to getting back on track!
As an aside, since it seems as though more of the people I know IRL use Myspace or Facebook, I have decided it would be a good idea to keep mirror blogs, so I'll be trying to post the same basic things to both Livejournal and Myspace from now on. If you'd like to see my Myspace page, take a look- but remember that I'm just getting started over there. If you also have a Myspace page, feel free to add me as a friend there.
Anyway, right now I'm working on several different projects, but the one I can most easily report on is a commission piece by the band "Heavy Plastic" (check my friends list over at Myspace to find their Myspace page). I did their previous album cover art a few years ago, and I'm sure we've both improved since then so it's likely that this album will be better by a stretch. I'll have to check with the band to make sure it would be okay with them before I go posting work-in-progress shots publicly, but the cover art is coming along very well in my opinion.
Aside from this piece, there are two other paintings I am doing for very personal reasons, and one of them is finally nearing completion. I would rather not spoil it by posting a work-in-progress shot, but it shouldn't be much longer before it is ready to post in full. This particular painting, for some reason, has taken me longer to complete than any other painting I can recall. It's not that it requires a great amount of detail or effort to do, but for some reason I have felt unable to work on it for weeks or even months at a stretch. I believe the personal significance of it has been the reason for this. It's autobiographical, and it portrays a difficult and profound metamorphosis that I have been undergoing. More specifically, it represents the path I wish to take rather than the one life has been trying to force upon me. Because of the difficulty of this metamorphosis, there are periods of time- sometimes long periods- when I am not feeling true to the piece. If it is not a true autobiographical work, then I can not, honestly, work on it. But it has become my standard to which I am trying to move, and as I find more strength within and move closer to the direction I desire, I find myself working on the painting more- and as I work on the painting more I find myself becoming it more honestly. It is as though my personal metamorphosis and the painting are linked somehow- the painting assists me in my desired path, and my progress along the path gives me the focus to move forward on the painting.
I know that the above paragraph probably sounds like a lot of the cryptic sort of nonsense that you might expect from a pretentious right-brained artist, but it's as straightforward as I can make it. My work has always been a form of self-therapy. It is my way of connecting with my inner self, of examining and bringing to light my inner strengths, demons, and curiosities. I've never made any apologies for the nature of my work. I've always been very clear that my work is what it is because it is what it needs to be at the time. If I have piqued your interest at all, then look forward soon to seeing more posts including images of the works I've discussed here.
It's been a good while since I posted an update here, so I wanted to just post this update to let everyone interested know why. I was looking to move out of my small apartment when my computer up and died on me. As I had just made an offer on a house at the time, I was too busy dealing with closing, repairing, painting, packing, and moving to deal with my computer issue. Now that I'm all moved in, I have finally gotten the computer back up and running again, and I'm starting to get settled into my new place.
I have repainted the exterior, replaced all of the major appliances including the furnace, except for the water heater (which was only 3 years old), I've been fixing the plumbing, repairing or replacing doors, doorknobs and locks, windows, outlets and switches, light fixtures, the list just goes on and on. But the place is starting to look very nice!
In addition to more living space, I will also now have much more work space. Most of the basement is being converted into a studio and gallery for my artwork, so I'll have plenty of room to paint and display my work in an environment free of distractions and clutter. It will also be nice to have a proper studio and gallery that people will actually be able to visit, instead of a small room that was serving as my studio, bedroom, storage area and office simultaneously.
I'll be sure to get pictures up when the studio/gallery is complete!
Of course I'm painting all the indoor walls too, one room at a time. I just have to have that color in my world.
I was asked recently to explain the dark thematic elements present in much of my artwork. Why do dark things interest me? Why do I wish to portray them rather than only celebrating the beautiful things in life?
To answer this question I have to get a bit philosophical. Most people have heard the expression, "You can't run away from your fears," or "You have to face your demons." Most people know this, but few people are willing to actually do it.
When we deny that which we feel threatened by- the dark, uncertainty, doubts, pain and suffering, or whatever our fears may be- we give them power to control us. We avoid situations where we might be forced to confront them. We do this to the detriment of our own personal growth. Since much of my art is a study of personal growth and human experience, it is necessary for me to use dark themes much of the time.
When I paint dark subjects, it is indicative of my belief that that it is important to face these things head-on rather than denying their existence. They are a part of every sapient being. By familiarizing myself with them, I strip them of much of their power over me.
There is nothing wrong with feeling repulsed by dark themes; there is, however, arguably something harmful in being unable to face them. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with embracing dark themes for the purpose of self-improvement.
My work leans towards dark themes, but this does not mean that my life is a place of constant darkness. I also portray life and vivid, positive imagery. I enjoy celebrating the positive as well as embracing the negative. Whether we like it or not, it is through adversity that we grow strong. Lifting weights builds stronger muscles. A tree growing in the wind grows stronger wood. We live in a life defined by joy, sorrow, pain, pleasure, ignorance, inspiration, confusion and clarity. It is important, to maintain a healthy focus, that we embrace all that makes us who we are; to acknowledge and learn from all of life's experiences and our own inner voices, not only from those experiences and feelings that are deemed "worthy" and positive.