Whispered Conversations

Title: Whispered Conversations
Size: 10x10"
Medium: Acrylic and graphite on wood panel
Series: 100 Square Project

I've been listening to the audiobook of Brené Brown's "Daring Greatly" while I've been at the gym. It's one of those books that's been recommended to me a few times, but I haven't gotten around to reading.

As a creative person, I never really know what's going to inspire something. I certainly did not expect something from this kind of book to inspire an abstract painting. But when I got to the part about how sharing personal experiences and being vulnerable can lead to a true intimacy with someone, I got a image in my head that I really wanted to express visually.

Building relationships can be in interesting process. I can be a fairly open person, but it depends on how I read the other person. There have been people I'm not too sure of, and with them it can take me a really long time to trust enough to put myself out there. If I ever do. If I click with someone the process can go a lot faster.

I remember when I was a kid... the LAST thing I wanted to do was tell someone anything about how I was feeling. In my family, as the youngest of 4 kids, giving away a secret was like giving your enemy something to taunt you with for the foreseeable future. My siblings could be vicious. The girls at school were equally awful. I learned quickly that the best defence was to never give anything away. I developed a poker face... while I couldn't always put it on at will, I did try. As a result of being so closed off, I had very few close friends. I still don't have many, but the ones I have are the kind of people I can tell anything to, and not have it come back to bite me. This is a good place to be.

It took me a long time to get here. As a young adult I didn't know how to talk about how I was feeling, so when I got angry or upset I just shut down. There were a few people who kept poking until they hit the soft spots and it all came out...usually involving a lot of swearing (and sometimes alcohol. My best friends are partial to scotch and tequila, respectively). But those conversations... the ones where I shared the parts of myself that I generally keep hidden... they were like little bright lights shining in an otherwise dark world of uncertainty and doubt.

Visualizing those whispered conversations... that was an evolving process, and it took many layers. I put some value variety in the dark areas representing the people we come in contact with daily. The co-workers, the acquaintances. The lighter hues are the people closer to us. There is variety in those too. The really good friends... they are in the iridescents. They look white, but they sparkle a bit. They change depending on the lighting. They are where you look and keep looking. And they hold it together.

As I'm trying to verbalize my thought process on this, I realize that I did an exercise like this decades ago when I took a class with an art therapist. She called it a "life map", and had us use a different colour to represent each person in our lives and show how they related to us. We did a past, present and future map. It was an interesting exercise that really sparked an interest in the abstract representation of an inner world. Maybe a topic for another post...


If you are in the Toronto/Mississauga area, I am participating in the Arts on the Credit Tour on September 22 and 23, 2018. For more details, see my Events page.