Sunday, July 28, 2013

"The Anatomy of Me: A Self Portrait" - Whimsical Painting

"The Anatomy of Me:  A Self Portrait"     8" x 10"     Acrylic on Gessobord

Detail of Owl from "The Anatomy of Me:  A Self Portrait"

Detail from Under the Sea from "The Anatomy of Me:  A Self Portrait"
 Not For Sale
But, if you'd like to see my available works or purchase a different painting, 
please go to the tab above labeled "Gallery of Available Works" and email me.

This is a self portrait that I've been working on for some time and that should have actually been done the week of my surgery. I know it's not a portrait in the traditional sense, but it's a peek into my life, my loves, and my passions and what is here on this canvas is truer to my heart than any painting of my physical appearance ever could have been. There are pieces of this that you won't quite understand, but that's part of the beauty of it in my opinion. And some of it is easy to explain. The lantern, for instance, represents my love of camping and spending time outdoors. The whale and ocean scene represent Monterey and the Aquarium, where many of our most special memories for our family have been formed, and will hopefully be revisited very soon. After all, we still need to make up for that botched summer vacation and we still have a few weeks left to try. =)  The owl is there because, well, I just absolutely LOVE owls, and same with the octopus. By the way, the octopus is stylized because when I was younger that's how I used to draw them for my friends, per their requests, and I wanted that aspect of my life to be shown here. There are so many more details with such deeper meanings than this, the tree, the pearl, the starry night sky, the clouds and the waves crashing upon the rocks - each and every element has its place in my heart and a reason for existing in this little world I created with paint and canvas. I wish I could share them all with you, but a girl has to keep a little mystery and intrigue about her, dontcha think?

All in all I really love the way this turned out in the end - I was scared there for a moment, not sure if I could get across exactly what I was going for, but I really do enjoy the way it turned out and it was quite the challenge for me to work on as well. My favorite part of it, well, other than the hidden meanings of course, was in putting so many pieces together into the one whole, with so many small and intricate details laced throughout it, and I honestly can't wait to do something similar to this on a much larger scale, even if I have no clue as to what I would actually do it of. Can you imagine how much I could fit into a scene as large as 48" x 60" if I actually did something like this? I mean, this painting here is only an 8"x10" - not my smallest work for sure, but still pretty small in comparison. Working on something so large would be utterly amazing - and perhaps a deal overwhelming - for me to undertake, but still, SOMEDAY...

Yes, someday I would absolutely love to do a really epic and involved piece, with details that just suck you in for minutes on end until you find yourself lost in it. I've always adored works like that by other artists - it's one of the most amazing aspects of art to me really - to lose one's self in it. But first I have to get over the fear of painting on and potentially ruining such as expensive as a large canvas. I just want to make sure that what I do is perfectly defined and drawn out long before I ever put paintbrush to palette near a canvas of that size. In a way it's silly, really, because I could always rework it until I really like it, but I still struggle with that fear as much as if it were a dog with his jaws clenched relentlessly around my ankle, unshakable and completely ferocious. Why I can't shake it, or when I will, I can't really say. But I sure do hope it's soon!

Do you ever struggle with fears like this? Or even better, have you ever overcome a fear that is similar to this one in some way? I'd love to hear from you, whether it's about something you've already dealt with or are still dealing with. God tells us to not be afraid - that the only thing worthy of fear is He himself. It makes sense - as He holds us securely in His hands and I know He's given me these gifts to use them, refine them, and to harness them to help out others, including my own family. I hate not being able to let go of my fears, my worries and my anxiety. I haven't been more aware of how much of a worrier I am than at my Doctors appointment this week. No, nothing was wrong - no losing of an organ this time! Instead, I'm actually participating in a Bio-Feedback program at the Chronic Pain Center, and while I was there with my Ty, we worked on breathing exercises. Apparently most people breathe slowly, deeply and with consistent timing. Most people also only take between 8 to 12 breaths a minute. Tyler definitely fits into this category. Me however? Oh no! Not me. I breathe so shallowly, quickly and inconsistently that Ty felt like he was going to hyperventilate during one of the tests where I was working on slowing down my breaths. I can't imagine how quickly he'd pass out if he had to breathe at my speed. After all, I take somewhere around 19 breaths a minute right now, which for a person without chronic pain is rather crazy, and for a person with chronic pain it's actually pretty normal. It's crazy how much stress, chronic pain and anxiety change the way your body actually functions on a regular basis. I can't even get close to breathing as slowly as Tyler right now - it's going to take months before then!

Well, it's in moments of awareness like this that open my eyes to how much I am truly unable to let go of my fears or worries no matter what they're about. Even in my art - my go-to "stress reducer" that helps me unwind and close out the rest of the world. Well, at least knowing all this will help me to come to the place where I can actually produce change in my life, I just wish the change was already here. And I imagine this might sound silly to some of you, but I wonder if it would help me to glaze a large canvas right off the bat just so the stark whiteness of it can no longer stare me so harshly in the face? It's worth a shot. And I imagine that just sitting down and drawing something out - facing my fear head on and attacking it before it permanently cripples me - perhaps that would help. I'll let you know what works if I ever do tackle the really gigantic canvases. They just look so amazing, don't you think?

It's getting late and I should probably let you go. I hope you have a wonderful day and hey, if you can you should try to stay tuned this week - I have a few more finished works that I'll be posting up here shortly and I'd love to be able to share them with you. They're little tiny ones too! In the meantime, take care of yourself, okay? God bless!


  1. It sounds like you've already got a plan for facing those fears of a blank canvas. Go ahead and try some things and see how they work for you! That's what makes art what it is, when you put your own heart and soul into it. And you've done that so beautifully with this piece. I think you've achieved that epic masterpiece that you've mentioned you admire from other artists. This piece has such depth and meaning, and appeals to the viewer for so many different reasons. It's the kind of piece that can be studied and admired for hours on end, or can be smiled at with enjoyment as one passes through the room. It's wonderful!

    1. Wow, Katherine, you are amazing! Everything you've said here is so beautiful to me, and I honestly don't feel like I deserve such sweet and loving words. But please know I will treasure them in my heart always! Thank you. Thank you so very much!

  2. Blick has a back-to-school sale on canvases in late August (?) and I got my large canvases for 50% off because I bought 30 canvases. Mine were all sizes, but one was 75x48. YES! I'm afraid to touch it! Two of them were 60x36 and there were for a commissioned diptych I'm still working on. I have found that this is too big for my usual style.
    I started with 48x36 because my teacher insisted that we think BIG and I was scared to pieces. But I let go of all expectations and just played.

    I'll have to remember that when I finally touch my giant canvas.

    But buy a big canvas in this year's sale at Blick's. Online, if not anywhere near you, but with all the artists in the Bay area, I bet there's a Blick's near you. You can always buy 29 of your preferred teensy size and then get the big one for 50% off.

    Btw, this painting is already one that has so many details I can get lost in it.

    1. Wow, thanks for the tip! And the compliment! I'll definitely be checking out Blick's sale in August then! If you see it going on, please let me know! That sounds absolutely amazing. And a 48" x 75"? WOWZERS! That's intense Rene! But I can't wait to see what comes of it when it's all finished up. It's going to be gorgeous! =D

  3. Melissa, when you posted this in A Piece a Week, I thought you had linked to a painting by a famous American artist. It is truly amazing and in no way did I think it was as small as you said. If you wanted to enlarge it and work on canvas much larger even 8x10', it would still be amazing. It's so full of depth and detail. I really hope you do dare to go bigger, but I totally understand illness and how it gets in the way. It really tells a wonderful story and I could stare at it for hours.

    1. Oh Suzi, I just don't know what to say that can possibly express what your words mean to me. This is one of the most beautiful compliments I have EVER been given and I just am so thankful and overwhelmed by your sweet words. You have no idea how much this inspires me to let loose with my art and to keep pursuing this as a full time career. I can't thank you enough for this rather undeserved yet beautifully touching compliment. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! =D I will treasure these words for the rest of my life!!!

  4. WOW!!! now THAT'S a self portrait!! amazing, amazing, amazing!!!!!!

    1. Hahaha, thank you so much Suzanne! You are so incredibly sweet and I couldn't have ever picked a better mentor than you! Thank you!!!! =D


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