I started a painting called “I’m pretty in pink” to celebrate my female body and my recent obsession with the color pink. But throughout the painting process I’ve made so many drastic changes to it that I’m starting to think the subject of the art work is more about my recent philosophy;
It’s okay to change your mind along the way.
I initially created a background for my painted selfie that included a field of flowers and an open blue sky. The spring day was meant to symbolize my newly-found self-confidence in my physical form and my recently developed love for my female body.
I used a combination of ink pencils, wax crayons, graphite pencils and oil paints to create the original background for “I’m pretty in pink”, but while I enjoyed the creation process, I wasn’t thrilled with the result.
It all felt a little flat…
I knew I could use some clever painting techniques to add visual depth to the painting, but it wasn’t visual depth that I felt was lacking. Rather, it was the symbolism of the background that wasn’t working for me. I decided that I would paint over the background and start again, with a design that turned my own past; the background of my life, into a strong and beautiful foundation for my personality; the central figure, to frolic upon.
These four photos show the different stages of the painting as I painted over the background and designed a mandala flower to symbolise a spiritual and emotional renewal.
By changing the background; I painted over the past
I quite enjoy the fact that this painting now has some secrets from its past that are hidden beneath the surface layer of paint. This makes the painting feel more human to me, because all human beings have secrets in their past hidden beneath the surface layer that they present to the world.
For this self-portrait, I decided to use the figure’s hands to draw attention to the most private and most distinctly personal parts of the female form. I put further emphasise on the most creative part of my female body by placing the mandala in the groin region. The symbolism of mandalas, for me, is a representation of life continuously unfolding like an eternal flower that is constantly blossoming and creating new and beautiful petals to add to the layers of petals that have come before.
The mandala flower is centered on the part of the female body that is not only able to bring forth life; it is also able to inspire a multitude of physical and emotional responses in those who experience or witness it.
It’s okay to change your mind along the way
I’ve surprised myself by continuing on with this painting instead of murdering it, as I have done with previous paintings that I disliked:
Or simply abandoning it…
I’ve never thrown away an unfinished painting, but I have painted over an art work so that I can reuse the canvas, and I’ve removed canvases from stretchers and used parts of the fabric in my mixed media collages. But while I’ve recycled my canvases and stretcher frames, this is the first painting idea that I have recycled.
While painting my new background I experimented with different techniques for the figure because I knew that if I didn’t like it I could simply change my mind and start again.
Every painting is a teacher
Each painting I create starts with me trying to express an idea of mine, but during the painting process I learn so much about myself and about life that by the end of the painting I feel like I am leaving behind a visual textbook of my life’s lessons.
So far with this painting I’ve learned that it’s okay to change your mind along the way and that I don’t need to abandon a goal simply because it didn’t work out as I’d hoped the first time around. I am learning to adapt to my ever-changing mind, and to love my ever-changing body, too.
The female body is exceptionally beautiful, and a warm and loving embrace from a woman who truly cares for you is a balm for any hurts that can be experienced by the human soul. The older I get the more I realize that my femininity is something to be celebrated, treasured and used with the utmost care.Catherine Nessworthy