And, I know. Hate is a strong word. But I’m 99.9999% certain I hate it.
I showed the featured photo above to a friend of mine the other day and her exact words were, “Well, I mean… I wouldn’t spend money on it… But, why do you hate it?” Her delivery was so deliciously dry. It led to much raucous mirth on my part. When I had regained my composure, the next words out of my mouth were:
“If you or anyone else ever offered me money for this piece I would immediately lose respect for all of you.”
Beyond wanting to kiss her for her awesome and honesty, I didn’t have much of an answer for her. I started this painting in 2016 and arrived at the above version sometime in 2020 I believe. I’ve hated it for so long that it’s hard to know why anymore. Thus, I asked a different friend if she remembered why I hate this painting so much because she’d actually seen it in earlier incarnations.
“Oh. For sure I remember… I’m not sure where to start… You said things like: ‘What was a thinking with a tiger and a woman, how f—king cliché is that? OOOOooo the woman is in the light hiding her inner tiger on the dark side of the painting… How meeeaannningful… Why would I make something this stupid and obvious and awful?’” She paused, then added, “should I go on?”
The truth is I didn’t hate it when it looked like this:
And, though I should have anticipated the infinite nature of the painting’s inevitable failure when I started playing with pieces like this:
Or when this happened:
I didn’t truly surrender to my utter revulsion and enmity until it landed here:
The composition/balance is all off. The elements are weak and don’t fit with each other or the background.
My mother took one look at a photo of it and asked why I’d put a giant gold coin in the sky which, after I thought about it, seemed like a totally fair question.
It was at this point that I put the whole thing in “the shame corner.”
Important to note that, at present, I could use more storage space for awkwardly sized and more fragile objects. Most of my art, that is not on display, faces a wall behind behind the electronic piano and that’s where this painting went. For this painting, however, this was not storage.
It was “the shame corner.”
It lived in the shame corner for months at a time, might have even been back there for a full year at one point.
Eventually, I would take it out, lean it against my coffee table or in my bedroom for different light, hate it some more – or even more than I had the last time I’d taken it out – and then put it back in the shame corner.
After about three or four years since I’d first waded into this mess, I took it out yet again, cannibalized another painting I loathed and added the other circles into the sky to try to improve the overall composition/balance. I added paint to the female figure and the tiger to give their elements more weight. Same with the sky.
The female figure lost her face because another thing my friend had reminded me I’d said was that, “Her face looks so dumb and terrible why would I have done that??”
The weirdest part of this story?
I now have this painting hanging on a wall in what is probably the most prominent part of my home. I see it aaaaaallll the time. I can see it right now, getting weird side-light from the balcony doors…
And I HAAAAAAAATE it.
But I can’t seem to bring myself to take it down. It’s like there’s something it’s trying to teach me, something buried in its clichés and myriad compositional and technical failures that I’m still not getting and there will be no peace until I figure it out…
I do find it interesting that my Golden Glowy Thing and this painting’s “gold coin” have very similar energies and I only painted my Golden Glowy Thing in the Fall of 2020… So, perhaps I’ve never been able to surrender and/or euthanize this piece because it’s connected to things that are genuinely important to me? I dunno’…
The absolute, hands down best part of this piece is the collage work. If you zoom in on the sky and the ground on the left, there’s actually a lot of intricate layering of torn Japanese paper and paint that I absolutely don’t hate.
I kind of love it, actually.
And the pleasure I took in doing it is a wonderful, embodied memory. This piece taught me how much I love to tear paper and make collage in a mixed media sort of way. I call myself the “Happy Hamster” now because this piece taught me how much I love to tear and build things out of paper. There was also much joy in cutting out, painting, and gluing the shrubbery by the no-face woman in her stupid chair with her stupid crossed ankles…
So. I guess there is love in this piece right alongside all the hate.
And not everything is about results. I do tend to be a process-oriented sort of human.
Still. Every time I look at it I tell it: “As soon as I have something new I can put in this space, you’re going back in the shame corner or I’m going to cut you to ribbons and turn you into something else.”
And then I feel weird about the idea of taking it apart. So, I don’t.
I keep it on the wall and hate it instead.