How Comics and Cosplay saved my Art career. Part One.
I always loved art and drawing. My mother would let me look at her museum books and saw that I was very interested from a very young age. By 5, I knew how to recognize a Picasso from a Modigliani. So she decided to buy me a box of pastels and let me reproduce the paintings I was looking at. My parents were surprised at the results and thought it might be a good idea to put me in an art class. However, at such a young age, there was no place for me to go. One of my dad’s friends was an artist himself and agreed to show me “the ropes”. He started teaching me how to manipulate colors and shape, all in a very abstract way. I loved it so much that by the time I was old enough, I was enrolled in a Beaux Arts School in my hometown. I learned in a very different manner there, very structured, from composition to human figure.
The human figure was the tipping point for me: until then, and because of how I started to learn art in a free spirit way, I was always more attracted to abstraction. But I loved the possibilities to say a story though people. I drew and painted a lot of people and faces through my art school years and post-graduation. I never had a moment when I wasn’t thinking of my next project. Until 3 years ago.
I went through some personal hard times and it seems that the pictures in my head went away. I wasn’t able to picture anything. The colors went all black and I didn’t have anything to put on the canvas anymore. It was very difficult for me to deal with. All of a sudden I didn’t have a way to express myself. My mind was trapped within itself. My husband was very supportive and tried to get me to paint again, but nothing would come out and would frustrate me even more. I finally decided to paint him a Christmas present (we were broke and it was my only way for him to have something under the tree). I chose a subject matter that we both loved: Star Wars! It took everything I had to make it through the painting. But because of Luke appearing slowly on the canvas, it started to be fun again. Maybe the force was with me after all!
Another 6 months passed without art. At this point we had decided to attend our first Comic Con. We had gone to PAX before, but never a Con. And how could we NOT cosplay?! We were going to make our costumes from scratch, even if it killed us! And it almost did! A lot of sweet, blood, tears, and three months later and we were finally at the Con! Making the costumes got my artistic juices flow again I guess. Being surrounded by all these amazing free spirit artists and cosplayers, lit up something in me. I started to think that maybe I could do the same thing. My paintings weren’t that bad, right? I could maybe find an audience here. After getting home, I searched for more cons to go to: I needed to be around the beautiful nerdom I had just found! And I didn’t want to wait a year to try to be a vendor. Of course I was nervous and it meant that I would have to get painting again. After three years, it was a lot for me to take on. But I was determined to make it happen! I found the perfect spot to get my business going: not too small, not too big, it was just right! The team at NorthEast Comic Con made me feel so welcome that it renewed my enthusiasm. My need to paint and the fun that goes with it came back. I have to thank comic books, cosplayers and all the beautiful geeks that I have met on my personal journey to rediscover myself and let my mind express itself once more. For the past few months, I have been painting pretty much a painting every week, and it’s been great for me to see that I still had it. The last painting I worked on was a little bit of a challenge: I tried something different and I wasn’t sure how it would get received. As soon as I posted it, I felt nervous: not a lot of people had been commenting on my art lately, the 3 year hiatus probably didn’t help. But the outpouring of compliments and “likes” was overwhelming! Within 15 minutes the painting had been seen more than any other before! People were leaving really positive and encouraging feedback, and sharing it with their friends. People from all over the world were looking at my page and new “likes” were arriving every day. I felt a great sense of happiness, accomplishment and pride: they loved me, they really loved me!
However, it’s not all rainbows and magic. As I am gaining followers on social media, people look closer at my body of work, and like what I do, I feel a lot of pressure to deliver. I have been working on this one painting for a few weeks now, and nothing I do to it seems to work. Or at least, I do not think it works and it is not fun anymore. After shedding some tears over it and a couple of scream fests at myself and my canvas (obviously the canvas is working with some mysterious underlord to make my life Hell and deserve to be screamed at!), I took a step back and put it aside. As some “friends” would say, the painting and I are on a break! I am starting a new one and hitting the reset button for my brain! As I am working on these paintings and trying to put myself out there, I am realizing that I have to keep it fun! I need to paint for myself first. I love that people like what I do and appreciate my geekery, but I have to feel comfortable and happy. With this last one, my husband, supportive and amazing as he is, was very afraid I would put my paintbrushes down and not pick them up again for another three years. But I keep going. The colors and images in my head won’t let me stop!