Vintage Botanicals: Ok, well maybe not…



I’m so excited for spring time flowers that I ripped open all my acrylics and went TO TOWN last night. Pia and I painted after supper, a secret trick we both use to evade dishes and other domestic hardships.

Shhhhh… don’t tell anyone…

Inspired by the coming blooms and my research into botanical explorations, I put together my own interpretation of the old school arrangements, the ones that graced the pages of the gardening books I poured over as a child.

 {Bouquet 001 Acrylic on canvas}

I’d never worked in acrylic before. Well, not entirely true. I had, a looooooooong time ago, the result of which was a horrible pink/black/white/grey palette that insulted the canvas that it surfaced. It had gone straight in the garbage. At the time, I had bicycle wheels suspended as crooked chandeliers, and even with my “eclectic” tastes of that period, the piece was still El Garbaggio, so out it went.

Last week, in a fit of resistance and rage, I had sent myself to the art store with the purpose of getting larger surfaces to paint on. Being bogged down by a 8.5 x 11″ watercolor sketchbook makes it difficult for me to play with composition and negative space. In my latest abstract experiments, I had worked on a bristol board (because it was there) and had loved the freedom that the large size afforded me. So boldly, I threw three giant canvases in my cart. Like 30″x48″.  While I walked around and around, I was slowly seized by panic and by the time I ended up at the cash, I had sized down and down until only the dainty 7″x9″ canvases were left.

Man, do I ever regret not getting those (they were 60% off!!!)…

I didn’t let myself get too excited. I did not give myself permission to create big, instead I reinforced my own inner critic and heckler. I fell victim to the desire to shrink myself down to a non-threatening size.

Who am I to make a giant painting? I haven’t painted a canvas in 8 years. I’m a fraud. My reptile brain took over and protected me from embarrassment and humiliation.

I can totally handle disappointing myself, but others? The idea makes me want to Virginia Wolfe it.

By not letting myself get the big canvas, I told myself that I couldn’t make a big piece.

By making a tiny painting and having it suck would hurt less.  The assumption that it would suck was at the forefront of this experiment.

The canvas was really inexpensive and I didn’t invest myself too much.

Why do we all hold the belief that if we let ourselves get excited, tell people, show our pride in something… that somehow we are jinxing ourselves? we are vain and narcissitic if you assume things will work out for the best. At worst, you’re naive. Self-promotion is for the desperate, for those who’s work isn’t good enough to promote itself.

With the giant canvases in the shopping cart, I hid in the corner, unable to believe.

Originally, I had set up this post with a whole bunch of other botanical illustrations at the top of the page. Near the bottom, I kept this piece for last. And I decorated with a paragraph about springtime flowers.  And I deleted the whole thing and reminded myself of why I write here at all.

With each post I write now, I see that this place is not just for the pretty posts anymore. We’ve all suffered so much from projecting only the pretty and the light, that I think we owe it to each other to show the not so pretty parts.

By sandwiching this print with the rest of the botanicals, I was only willing to show the pretty parts. I didn’t want to focus on my work, but I also did. I wanted to share something I made and not feel arrogant. All day I danced around writing this post until it all unravelled and I slashed off most of the pretty bits.

Can you smell the woo woo?

I don’t want to shrink past my own worth anymore.

So despite ALL OF THAT STUFF (phew, I feel so much better now that I’ve aired that shit out) , I love love love love love my tiny painting so much. I want to look at it all the time. Not because it’s particularly good (it’s a glorified Rifle Print people), but because I pushed through all the garbage that I blanketed myself with.

Mic drop.


6 thoughts on “Vintage Botanicals: Ok, well maybe not…

  1. Holy cow, I love everything about that tiny canvas – I love that it is so tiny, it’s bursting with beauty! What I love about your posts is I think about them and play them back in my head for days after I read them. Doing the ‘work’ I am starting to do with myself (finally) – so many things are becoming clear (and in a scary way, which is refreshing and enlightening). I love that you are painting with Pia too. Your little painting is so big and wonderful. Maybe you are meant to paint on the little ones. Just because it’s a bigger canvas, doesn’t mean it is better or you are more worthy to paint on a bigger one, etc. It’s such a treat to follow in your artistic journey!
    ps. This was repeating in my head this morning as I was dropping E off at school (after a rough less than a week with him and school crap) – a not so pretty thing – motherhood can be soul crushing some days. It is the truth. It’s a damn scary journey that has equal parts beauty and not so much beauty.
    Looking forward to our lunch one of these days! xxoxx

    1. I think the more we talk about the duality of it all, like the more we express our own struggles, the easier it is for everyone around us to accept themselves and maybe be more compassionate towards the people who surround them? I don’t know! Re: lunch… Check your email!! Xo

  2. “Why do we all hold the belief that if we let ourselves get excited, tell people, show our pride in something… that somehow we are jinxing ourselves? we are vain and narcissitic if you assume things will work out for the best. At worst, you’re naive.” — Nailed it. WHY?!?!?!!!

    1. WHHHHHYYYYY?? I think that’s something that transcends gender and might be rooted in like religious piousness? That we should be above wanting or getting excited about material things and events?
      Anyways, it’s BS.

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