Most waking hours I'm consumed with the Specimen Series. I've become obsessed with collecting information on the topic of animal specimen preservation, specifically the spaces where these animals now exist. I'm up to my eyeballs in photos, collection visit time, books, and documentaries on the subject. I feel like the information itself can be tagged and sorted into shallow drawers to make a collection all of it's own.
I want to see animal specimens in a different way, stripped of the space around them in order to develop a better understanding of their appeal. It is impossible to render something completely void of an environment but what happens when you take oh let's say a cub in a jar or a stuffed moose head and place them in a blank environment?
What does it all mean? Where to next? Dioramas?
Epic-scale paintings? Sculptural curio cabinets?
Step right up! Before your very eyes - BEHOLD! - the smallest cabinet of curiosities in existence! I've begun a collection of my own - some skulls and bones, a leaf wing butterfly, a mudbug, some ammonite, etc.
Self-portrait with Stole oil on wood, 46"x34", 2013
Left to right: Self-portrait with Cap Gun,
Self-portrait with Can Phone, Self-portrait with Stole
I'm moving toward world domination one self-portrait at a time. Self-portrait with Stole is done and done. I started the series almost a year ago when I was just beginning my upward climb from a very dark time in my life. Hitting rock bottom isn't encouraged as the topic of most conversations. It makes people feel itchy and awkward. Judgements are made and raw feelings exposed. Can you ever look at someone the same after they've told you they went stark-raving bananas? I sure hope so.
"God won't give you more than you can handle." That's bullshit. Many of us have experienced events in life which were too great for our sweet beating hearts to bear. That is what happened to me. It was a succession of events over a two year period that completely knocked me off my rocker.
From start to finish, a mere four weeks is all it took for my seven and a half year marriage to completely unravel. High on the freedom that only a once married woman can understand and desperate to outrun the impending devastation of a failed marriage, I naturally moved to New Zealand. It took a year before the pain came to claim me. I grabbed a couple of six packs and hightailed it back to the States to keep the demons at bay but they immediately began to paw at the window pane. Some serious interference was needed so I got into a highly toxic relationship with a total bottom-feeder. Douse that train wreck with twenty years of drinking like I was headed for prison and you have the makings for a full-blown breakdown. Four day stint in a psych ward - check. I drove that shit till the wheels fell off.
Thank god, you think...it's finally over. But you would be wrong. "Once you hit rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up!" That is also bullshit. Once you hit rock bottom, you may not be able to fall any further downward but you sure as shit can linger around for an indefinite period of time. I crawled from the smoking wreckage that was my life and crashed and burned a couple more times before finally waking one morning simply knowing I'd had enough.
And here I am, glad to be at the point where I can reflect on this period of my life and relay it as another anecdote in the arsenal of many.
First painting of 2013. Moose on a Cart. I always research the animals I draw - their habitat, characteristics, etc. but I wanted to research in a different way for this painting...a hippie way. What is the symbolic nature of a dang moose? If you haven't googled moose symbolism lately you'd be surprised at the large amount of info out there on the subject. Courage, determination, and self-esteem are mentioned a lot as is being a contradictory animal - they are awkward yet graceful. The phrase that spoke to me the most and what I felt when I painted this is...strength found in gentleness. I like that. Strength found in gentleness.