As a senior art major at Saint Joseph’s College one must take Senior Portfolio. This involves a decent amount of reading and planning as well as art making. The main point is to create one cohesive group of works to put into a (semi) solo senior art show at the end of the year. Bonnie Zimmer, my instructor for the course, really stressed having a solid theme or context for all of the works.
After a lot of work in my sketch book I came up with my idea- feelings. Sounds basic, but there’s more to it. Art (to me) is about feelings. How a painter feels while he’s painting, how a viewer feels while she’s viewing, and all the feelings that come before and after. All of these feelings work together to create the art piece. The artist has an intent for a painting but leaves her work open to interpretation by a viewer who just had a really bad day or just received really good news or whatever. And all of this is combined to create what everyone thinks of the artwork.
So what I wanted to do was create paintings that brought out viewers’ emotions. Just something that would make them feel. It also became cathartic for my feelings, which is why I titled my show Release. I wanted to release my feelings and I wanted others to view my artworks and feel some sort of release as well.
With that idea in mind I started making paintings with varying degrees of realism and abstraction until the end of the year when I wound up making weird abstracted, emotive landscapes. Anyway, many of my original paintings focused on vague, barely human-looking figures in different emotive poses.
The first painting I sold was originally supposed to have such figures. There were to be two figures facing each other, clearly in some sort of difficult situation and seeming upset. A very chaotic background was to surround them to truly show what I wanted in the situation.
It didn’t play out as I’d imagined. I took some time during class and after track practice to work on the background before I painted the figures over it. The next class when my painting instructor Corey Crum saw it he was pumped. “Don’t take such a literal approach, what if you just left out the figures?” So I did.
I put the finishing touches on it later and I titled it, It Is In You. This was after several other titles I no longer remember that didn’t have the power I was looking for.
When my English professor Charles Kerlin saw it at the Senior and Staff art show in town he came up to me and asked if it was for sale. Of course it was. If I could make money doing what I loved I was set. He wanted a photo of us near it. We looked at it together and he said, “This just reminds me of feelings I have sometimes.”
With that I was so happy. It was what I wanted. I wanted people to feel things when they looked at my art, and I’d gotten it. Even if it was only from one person, that was okay with me. At least someone got it.