“Seeking True Expression”

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In my search for a place to exhibit my artwork I came upon a quaint little gallery in a bookstore. Nice white walls with spotlights and a room to accommodate 20 to 25 paintings. Sign me up I said to the manager in charge. That left six months to put together a show of my very best work which I hadn’t yet created. I already had a few paintings in mind but really had no idea how I was going to manifest them. My plan was to paint pictures of flowers. Large,small,wild, bright, sensual. A virtual garden of earthly delights. But my bubble burst when the negative voice inside my head said “did you forget that Georgia O’Keeffe has already painted every flower known to man. Don’t you have a better idea then that?” My answer to my self was “actually, no.”

So regardless, I went ahead and bought a bunch of canvases,brushes and paints and embarked on a painting excursion to explore the natural world of flowers. Recently I discovered a beautiful display of purple irises at a college campus just across the street from where I lived. So I packed my paint box and easel and set off to paint a masterpiece. With my wide brimmed hat I felt a bit like van Gogh, but it wasn’t too long before frustration started to set in. (Don’t worry, I didn’t slash my ear.) Along came that pesky voice again. Who are you trying to kid? Here comes another flop. At about this same moment a small group of students began to gather around my easel to watch me paint. A few had some positive comments about the painting and my confidence slowly returned.

That painting of irises spurred me on to create additional large canvases of flowers. With my renewed confidence I decided to try a slightly different route. I set up bouquets of flowers in my home during the winter months before the show. It provided a cheery atmosphere in my house that spurred me on to keep creating. I contemplated the vase of flowers before me and tried to perceive them in a new way. At the end of the first day’s session that old voice returned and I felt rather dejected about the painting. Like many artists I’m often my worst critic. I took the painting and turned it towards the wall so that I couldn’t see it. After a couple days I turned it around and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw before me. Detaching from the work helped me view it in a new way.

So, finally the day of my art opening arrived. I felt confident about the work and pleased with how it looked hanging in the gallery. Many of my friends and family attended and all in all it was a great success. But now once again I must reenter the vortex of creative solutions for my next exhibit. Maybe I’ll call it “The Agony and the Ecstasy”.

Irwin Weinberger

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