In the Spotlight

oil painting of a falling figure
Spotlight, oil on canvas

I think (most) people have a dichotomy within them, two sides that are conflicting to take over. One is the side that wants everyone to notice them and to love them (like celebrities) and the other side is the private side that doesn’t particularly want to be noticed most of the time.

And wouldn’t you know it? Almost every time you get noticed by a large crowd its at a time when you really don’t want to.

Maybe it isn’t that often, but it’s quite a bit. At least for me. And it’s embarrassing and nerve-wracking and unpleasant.

I wanted to communicate these feelings in the painting above titled Spotlight. The figure appears to be tripping or falling or otherwise making a fool of herself, and of course the spotlight is on her. Everyone around can see her in her weakest moment.

Of course, we don’t see an “everyone” in this painting. There is no audience. This was done intentionally to call to mind those moments when you think everyone is staring at you but really no one is at all. You feel like you’re making a fool out of yourself but everyone else is so interested in their own lives that they don’t even notice yours.

So I ask, which is worse? To have the spotlight on you at a low point or to have those around you ignore you no matter what’s going on?

It depends on the day. Some days I’m happy that no one noticed me but others it seems like I want to be noticed. Hence the dichotomy. Maybe you’d be embarrassed if everyone watched you run directly into a hurdle and effectively fall on your face, but maybe them seeing you do it validates the moment and makes it somehow worth it? Maybe if you had been alone and no one had seen your embarrassment it wouldn’t have mattered even to you and somehow that’s worse?

I reference hurdling because for the longest time I solely identified myself as a hurdler, and being on the track was the only place I felt comfortable being in the spotlight. I no longer have hurdling in my life which has been sad, but maybe most sad because I don’t have a specific thing where I feel completely confident and competent anymore. Of course, I was a waste at hurdling by the end of my senior year so that sucked, but nevertheless I miss it.

I think that to feel comfortable in public situations, even when we’re embarrassing ourselves, we all need something to feel confident in. My thing used to be hurdling, and now I need to find something else so that the next time I run head-on into something in front of a crowd it won’t be so bad.

I think my goal is for painting to be my newest confidence-inducing activity, but with so few sales over time and for the little interest I get from other people, well I just don’t feel particularly confident in it yet.





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