Every painting or drawing I create has a story. There are the life events that lead into it and then the narrative of the actual creation of the piece. For 'The Great Embrace', the story begins around 2005. At the time I was recovering from the loss of a relationship. In sharing with my Mother all that I went through, I was overcome with emotion and broke down. In that moment, my mother held me like a child and comforted me. It was a touching moment for multiple reasons, one being that even as adults we sometimes need to be held when our emotions paralyze us. It was enough to heal me at the time and that rare moment was captured in a sketch I did later on.
Eventually I would translate this sketch to a painting. To save on costs I will sometimes use an older painting and paint on top of it (check out the video). That's how I started 'The Great Embrace'. I started it in 2006 and worked on it off and on until 2010. That was the year I started Grad school. Unfortunately I would have to sacrifice social as well as studio time to be a good student. So this painting as well as others would be put on hold until after I graduated. It's been a little over a year that I've been a full time artist and I'm steadily finishing pieces I've had since before I was a schoolteacher in 2003. 'The Great Embrace' was something I was avoiding for a long while. This may be an artist thing or perhaps it's just one of the barriers of self-doubt that we as human beings go through. This piece was very complicated and I had no idea how I would be able to finish it. Don't be fooled by the ease and flow of the video animation of how this painting was made. There were many moments of utter frustration and self-threats to put this piece back in the closet. There is a common misconception that being a full time artist is easy. I once thought this same thing observing from the perspective of a full time employee working a job I didn't enjoy. What you don't know about artists is that we spend a great deal of time by ourselves. Just imagine all of the distractions of your life that dominated your thoughts for years and then all of a sudden the bulk of that distraction is gone. What you then face is your true self and ALL of the emotional blocks that prevent you from moving forward. Once there is a space free of distractions, you'll notice certain things that bubble to the surface. The stinging words that someone(s) said to you years ago, the unforgiving feeling of past mistakes you've made, "Am I good enough? "Am I beautiful enough?", the hopes and dreams that make you wonder if you'll ever attain them, etc. etc. You could call that your "soul work". When you have properly managed those "bubbles" you'll then feel the flow of creativity. I have experienced this flow and have also been "in the zone" of total focus. It's a wonderful feeling and I believe we can feel that flow at will. What blocks it is the feeling of worry, stress, doubt, and fear. Part of my responsibility as an artist is to address those unbalanced emotions as they come. If I choose to overlook them or distract myself with something else, the result is that the flow of creativity is blocked. Now that my profession revolves around art; my emotional, physical, and spiritual well being are of the utmost priority. From the equilibrium between them, comes the artwork and the abundant creativity that inspires me to move forward. Some may question, "Why don't you just make art out of your frustrations?". My response to that is that sometimes there are emotions we feel that no words can adequately describe, no color can fully address, and no movement can capture. Your only option is to go within.
The finished painting of 'The Great Embrace' is the result of handling the stresses of life in a healthy manner, long enough for the abundant and creative flow to move through me and give me the creative solutions for a complicated painting.
The meaning of the painting has changed for me. It evolved from a painful recollection of a hard life lesson and moved towards a greater message of trust in the infinite. I do believe in a Creator of the Universe and I believe that it comforts us during our soul work in ways that are invisible to distracted minds. For me this being is both male and female and is nothing but pure energy and consciousness. Since every physical form(matter) is made of energy, then that can only mean that we have been and always will be embraced by something greater than ourselves.