For many years, I had self-esteem issues (and admittedly still struggle) but painting has become a space for me to play, dream and really explore the tough nut of self-love. Ironically, it used to be the biggest place of judgement because I would get caught up in loop of feedback. I would find myself painting based on the menu of comments of what people liked or didn’t. This became terribly confusing because people had so many opinions and often conflicting feedback — “more blue, less glitter; what about blue glitter?”
There was a particular painting I was stuck on and I asked one of my friends for advice, “Go nuts…just paint everything you want to.”
At the time, I was going through one of those hard, but necessary breakups – the kind where one finally listens to their own heart instead of trying to make it work. My roommate was out of town for three weeks, so I turned the kitchen into a studio. It was February and freezing and the heat wasn’t working so I warmed myself with red wine and painted. I imagined nature having a party for me and dreamt up a beautiful land where someday I might find my kind of love. I painted flowery things and added a shit-ton of glitter because I liked it. I played music loudly and danced around with the cats. Thinking about this now I sound like a lunatic, but it was fun.
Three months later, I did find him. I swear there was something magical about that painting – it had to do with me realizing that I was okay, with myself, as myself and I didn’t need to do anything or be anyone else, but me. It was the beginning of the “self-love” journey.
The last time I had hung out with “myself” like that was probably when I was seven-years old and pretending to make magical potions out of dirt and leaves. The child version of myself is much less critical and just wants to play.
Like life, my painting is still shifting, I now move in between painting very detailed worlds and abstract expressions. The detailed worlds have become a meditation — each dot and line becomes a ‘being’ bringing life and love to a new area. Botanicals, creatures and pretty things are abundant and are meant to remind us of our interconnectedness.
But leaving something more abstract has allowed me to explore the idea of letting something just “be“.
These days, when I paint, I check in with my intention. Am I painting something because someone else liked it? Or because I want to explore a feeling? Most days I just want to imagine a world of hope, love and beauty. My paintings have become a place for me to process the very sad things that are happening in our world.
There was something about the permission my friend gave me that allowed a certain kind of spaciousness and I am ever grateful for it.
The more I learn to love myself, the more I hope this radiates outwards – in my relationships and art. Because I believe if we could all feel into our inner goodness, our whole world would be brighter.
My paintings are meant to evoke a sense of dreaming and playfulness. I want to paint the scenes that the beings of our dreams see; full of reminders of beauty, love, and places where kindness doesn’t matter, it just is.