Wednesday, November 11, 2009

a new painting

This is a sad one. I'll write more later about it, but it's about a sad story of a sweet girl who took her own life recently. I wrote brain in Chinese in the background (腦) – actually writing brain in one language or another is going to be something I do in every painting. Anywho. I should definitely go plan my lessons now.

Process 1 below:

Process 2:

So, I guess I'll write a little about this. The story comes from a really amazing special trip with Justin to a beautiful, tiny island between China and Taiwan. It was a really beautiful place. A really, really nice trip. I know it will be a really fond memory. But that memory is always going to be a little clouded with the memory of Claire. I don't know why this hit me so hard. Maybe it's because this teaching abroad experience is so emotional for me. I was really affected by Claire's hanging herself a couple weeks after we met her. I don't mean to hijack someone else's sorrow or grief by feeling sad about this. Because I didn't really know Claire. She's just a person who I encountered who briefly had an impact on me and who I knew I would never see again. I was just feel really sad about what happened. Sad for her family. Sad that her decision is so irreversible. I wished there was something I could have said. I hate thinking about people being sad. And when I thought we were having pleasant conversations, I just didn't know how deeply troubled she was. I wish I had, though.

Claire was really sweet. She did all the translating for her mom and dad at the hostel where Justin and I stayed. Her English was really good, but she said it wasn't. She really reminded me of my sweet teenage students. Justin and I have done a lot of traveling in the past few years. There are always people we briefly encounter who we talk about as part of a really fond memory, whether it's Kauai or Europe somewhere or in Peru. Claire will be one of those.

So, this is Claire, and I thought I would paint my memory of her.

Redoing the face. Too scary before. I think I'm going to bring in flowers and tradition Chinese patterns into the background and overlaying her face in subtle ways. Hmmm. I'll probably pull some of the beautiful ornate patterns from the Penghu temples.

This is one of the hardest paintings that I've done in a long time. I think the both the story and process were a struggle. It made me sad to paint it. I was a weird sort of emotional thing. I didn't like painting it. I think it was an important painting to get through.

The photo above is bad and taken from my computer (broken camera). The process for this ended up working out pretty well. The colors have been inspired by the temples we saw all over Penghu. The use of red is intended to be violent but is meant also be in conflict with the idea of red being a color of good luck in Chinese culture. I struggled with Claire's face. That could be deemed a failure considering that this is a portrait of her face but I'd rather not call it that. I had to paint it over again a couple of times. It never felt right to paint a realistic face, so I ended up with this face with yellow, red, and white. White being a color symbolizing death, yellow symbolizing her Chinese culture, and red, again symbolizing violence and conflict. The word treacherous comes to mind when I think about this story and I couldn't help but (even though I consciously tried to avoid it) showing this treachery in the painting itself.

I might go back to this one some, but I think it's time to move on to something else for now.

I think this is "done." I might come back later and do some detail work. This has been one of the hardest paintings I've ever done. It's sad. It's a struggle. And I think the best part of this painting is how the struggle of completing it mirrors the struggle that was going on in the poor, young girl's mind.

Moving on to my cow painting at full speed! Based on my "timeline" cow should be finished today. Not going to happen, but I have some other paintings planned that will go much faster.

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