Kittens and Toilets

When I was little, I used to take the cat into the bathroom with me, so I could hold it on my lap while I sat on the toilet, to feel its soft belly on my bare thighs. Naked, safe, innocent. And yet, in telling you this, I feel a little shame for how it will be interpreted. I yearn for that safe/naked/innocent feeling with my art, and yet how can I expect that when I want to explore imagery that is taboo, or uncomfortable? 

But in this way, I am a leader. I'm often the first to share (perhaps overshare) in conversations and in therapeutic groups. Often, I do not feel received when I do this, and that is okay. Always, someone will pull me aside later to say how much they appreciate my ability to speak my truth, that it made it feel safer for them to. 

My willingness to question, to be in a liminal space, to not know, to wallow in the grey, it is often misinterpreted as ignorance, or a request for advice. And advise me people do, stumbling into my mental space with off key pragmatism, when all I really want is to know that I am not alone.

In many social spaces I am alone. The batty goofball, if I talk - so I usually don't. My intelligence, expertise, and experience are dismissed or unseen, because one thing I have not yet learned is when it is okay to be sure, to stand in what I know, to stop exploring certain questions and just go with a best answer for a while. 

I need to risk presenting myself as someone who has something to offer instead of giggling. I need to stop tolerating it when I am interrupted or talked over when I speak from a place of strength. And I need to learn to speak from that place of strength instead of only speaking from my willingness to be vulnerable.

More storybook portraits and scenes

As much as I love painting these, they are a bit of a guilty pleasure. It is clear that I loved my Beatrix Potter books.  But I judge my own work for its illustration quality. Like there is something wrong with it. And there isn't!  I am an illustrator, of characters for grown up story books. There. Now go away critical voice!

These are works in progress. I seem to be creating a series of portraits, done in watercolor, or various creatures in regal robes. I like them. This one, below, has no head yet, but I plan on it being an albino raven. 

The other piece is also a clue that a series might be developing. I like to show figures, in some sort fo interaction. They feel very supportive and spiritual to me, like guidance, empathy. This one I'm frustrated with because there is so much green!  I can't seem to get rid of it. 

Work in progress. Watercolor. TOO MUCH GREEN.

Work in progress. Watercolor. TOO MUCH GREEN.

Another work in progress. NO HEAD! 

Another work in progress. NO HEAD! 

Experiments and Scratching

Sometimes revisiting a particular image feels like coming home. But lately it has felt stale. It's so hard to feel like you are mastering something but still keeping your work fresh. Or to feel like you are working within your "style" while also trying out new things. 

I really love the work of Marlene Dumas. She does portraits, and some of her work uses a wet into wet approach to create gorgeous, spontaneous, kind of creepy images. I'm playing around with that approach. She also uses found images from magazines as her references. 

I like to be able to work spontaneously and to not use reference images all the time. Plus, copyright issues. But sometimes the well runs dry and I need to work from references to build up my internal image bank. 

“Chlorosis (Love sick),” 1994 (ink, gouache, and synthetic polymer paint on paper) by Marlene Dumas.

“Chlorosis (Love sick),” 1994 (ink, gouache, and synthetic polymer paint on paper) by Marlene Dumas.

Laurel Antur,  Saving Girls from Hacks and Butchers,  2016, Watercolor, 11 x 17, watercolor and ink.

Laurel Antur, Saving Girls from Hacks and Butchers, 2016, Watercolor, 11 x 17, watercolor and ink.

Laurel Antur,  A 24-year-old American Wait Out the Hours , 2016, 9 x 12, Watercolor and Ink.

Laurel Antur, A 24-year-old American Wait Out the Hours, 2016, 9 x 12, Watercolor and Ink.