For my birthday a few years ago, I bought myself the largest canvas I'd ever dared. I stared at the 3ft by 4ft of blank space and thought, "yeah, I'm ready for that challenge".
As per usual, it stayed in my studio for about a year before I ever thought about it again.
Surprising as it may seem, I actually have a heavy background in portraits and mixed media paintings. In high school, my AP Art portfolio consisted almost entirely of portraits. I love learning the plains of a face and using unexpected colors to add depth. I didn't make my foray into abstract until I had my own home. I remember standing at Pier One, looking at a mass produced print and thinking "I can do that at a quarter of the cost". Little did I know that I would be put on a path, both challenging and rewarding, that would lead me here.
So, naturally, when I worked up the courage to tackle the monstrous beast, I thought I'd go back to my roots and do something more in my comfort zone: a portrait. The idea came to me one night lying in bed with my husband. After a long day and a peaceful evening with the man I love, we lay in bed dozing in and out of sleep with the lamp on. Then it struck me. This, this is the moment I want to capture. I want to paint my view as I fall asleep. So, I began. I got the bare bones on the canvas, and then nothing. Every time I'd look at it, and try to add depth to his face, or even begin to add a detail, I felt derailed. It just wasn't the painting I wanted to create.
I often find that when working on a painting, I have one idea about where it is going, and my hands and the paint have another.
The beautiful thing about this conflict is the end result. My head and hands work together, and often end up creating something I could have never imagined. There are many moments of grace in mistakes, frustration in expression, and downright irritation. But learning to lean into the weird and imperfect is freeing and has lead to some of my greatest creative breakthroughs.
When I decided to let go of what I thought this painting *should* be and just let it be what it *is*, the colors flowed right out of me. My hands worked faster than my head, and I finished my monster in one afternoon.
In the end, I think "Sleepy Joy" better captures that moment I experienced better than a portrait ever could have. Just like my moment in Pier One, the afternoon I released what I thought I knew, has transformed my art and set me on a new path. I've loved the new freedom in expression, and I hope you do too.
You can make my monster part of your collection by checking out my shop here