"The Voices In My Head", Acrylic, 24" x 24" Wrapped Canvas
The Voices in My Head
This painting started off as an Intuitive Painting and then became the inspiration piece for a new body of work.
It was the 2nd canvas from my first two-day Intuitive Painting workshop. I brought it back to my studio and set it up on a shelf I had for works in progress. During the workshop the question was asked why not add words to your canvas? Once it was back in my studio I thought "why not?".
With this canvas, I began doing just that. At the end of each painting session while working on other pieces I passed by this canvas on my way to clean up my tools. Whatever leftover paint I have gets applied to the "In Between" canvases I have set up in the background as I paint. Typically, I use the excess paint to apply random marks but in this case I applied random words.
When I paint in the studio my mind is running and as I approached the canvas for clean up I painted whatever was on my mind in that moment.
At the same time I was painting this piece I was trying to think of a series I could create that had purpose. You might call it doing a little soul searching of my own. I needed to find something that spoke to me, and would then speak to others. But what would that be? This need to find a purpose for my paintings came to me during a symposium I had attended in Durham called "Articulating Value in the Arts". There was a call to action at that symposium and I left there thinking it wasn't enough to create art for art's sake. I wanted to create art that had a message. I just didn't know, at the time, what that was going to be.
After adding words to this canvas for a period of time, I realized what showed up was snippets of my inner thoughts and emotions. It made sense for me to then add a self-portrait to the work but I wanted the words to be the real focus so I decided to create the portrait in more of a pop art style to match the graffiti-like composition of the words. I also decided that I didn't want to cover up all the words in the background by painting a portrait over the top of them so I tried to make the skin transparent so viewers could see what was under the surface. It wasn't about what I looked like that I was trying to convey, it was what was inside of me. Things I hide away, thoughts I don't usually share.
When I had finished this piece I titled it "The Voices In My Head" because that is what it represented. Then I realized: "This was it!" This was going to be the series I created for a purpose. I would paint others and use their words, their thoughts, their emotions, their voices.
As I began thinking of this series I knew it was not going to be sufficient just to paint their portraits in a word cloud of their thoughts and emotions, as I had done with mine. I wanted to do more. I wanted to tell their stories. I would have to interview them so that I could learn their story and share it with the audiences when I shared their paintings. By doing so I hope to raise awareness.
For the longest time I could not decide what to name the series. I kept using the working title "The Voices" but I didn't want people to confuse the title with the show "The Voice". One day it came to me. My goal is to invite audiences to look beyond the physical exterior of these people. I wanted to share the essence of their being. I wanted them to look into those souls.
Essentially, "The Voices In My Head" told me to do a little "Soul Searching" project because ultimately, I am searching for souls to paint so that audiences might do a little soul searching of their own.