We had a great attendance at the gallery last night with people moving through all evening. I am a blessed person to have so many "regulars" who come to every opening to support me. I was thrilled to have friends Steve and Eugenia there, as well. These are two people who have been overwhelmingly supportive of my work in many ways. And of course it is wonderful to connect with new people.
This morning I debriefed the event with my friend Pam who will often walk around listening to comments and talking to people. The painting that by far received the most varied response was the "Shepherdess of the Sea." This painting is the most surrealistic and generally cryptic of all of my paintings thus far. It is interesting to find that from the beginning, it evoked strong response. Many people really loved the idea and encouraged me to pursue it, but some felt otherwise. It seemed that as long as I was painting the lovely fawn, all was well, but as soon as the idea evolved in a directly surrealistic direction, I received some opposition. Originally, the initial drawing utilized some of the ideas of "The Flowering Bull" such as using botanical elements for the legs with the thought that she may be his predecessor. But as I went along in the process I realized she had something to do with the ocean, and followed that leading.
Among the common comments were that some did not feel comfortable with the pairing of land and sea life, and others didn't "get it." Working in this genre requires a non-left brained way of seeing. Many people have a hard time connecting with surrealism most likely because the viewer often has to work harder to "get it" in this genre than any other, maybe with the exception of minimalism. It can appear "nonsensical", odd and often times there may be nothing to "get." In most of us the rational brain, the labeling and compartmentalizing brain is the first to respond. I find even in myself this kind of unconscious habit of trying to explain and make sense of art when I look at it. In my painting, this kind of immediate reaction hinders my creativity, so I work at trying to let the work speak to me.
As the artist, this spectrum of reaction is a fantastic thing and in no way a negative. The more I think about the Shepherdesses' evolution and the volume of reaction, the better I feel about the painting. When everyone likes a painting, you have to wonder how challenging it really is and on the other hand, if people are really being honest. The very worst that can happen is no response. A huge part of why I paint is to evoke a feeling and I feel every individual reaction is valid. So thank you to everyone from sketch to opening night who voiced their thoughts on this painting openly and honestly. You bless, encourage and challenge me when you do...
One woman approached me to say she thought my work is scary and indeed, there are dark undertones and notes to be sure (forbid it that I would ever paint a work that is simply "pleasing" or "enjoyable." It wouldn't be authentic for me to do that). So, another wonderful reaction from someone who took the time to "look", let the work speak and so feel what comes to the surface.
I hope that my work is uniquely creative with a strange beauty that others remember and that in some way it will speak to each individual in a personal manner.