You know that emoji that looks like it's freaking out? I'm convinced this emoji is basically taken from expressionist Edvard Munch's piece Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). I present Exhibits A & B for your perusal:
If that isn't resemblance, I just don't know what is.
Ok, now that we've established this very important detail, let's move on, shall we?
It was a Tuesday evening in May and I was scrambling, feeling little tremors of anxiety begin to ebb and flow through my brain. I'd set out to complete a painting for an art show and though I'd begun four days earlier, I'd underestimated the time it would take me to finish all the necessary layers and let them dry before proceeding. It was Tuesday, around 8pm, and the show was Wednesday, the next day. YIKES. Yes, I do tend to run a bit late.
Still, I knew it was definitely possible to finish the piece; I just needed to buckle down and probably not sleep. You know, that artist's life! (the kind that results in poor health habits and red eyes...so maybe not so glamorous...)
Things were clipping along decently enough, when it happened. The kind of thing one dreads in project/product making and yet can't really prevent because it always seems to be completely unforeseen: the lightbulb moment of "THIS ISN'T RIGHT, IT SHOULD BE DIFFERENT." I'd had a clear plan & sketches I'd done beforehand and thought I was good to go--I liked the idea I had. But then all of the sudden, I realized that what I'd envisioned wouldn't be nearly as awesome as the secondary vision that had just popped into mind.
Moments like these are a weird collision of "YAY" and "NOOOOO" because the new idea is great, but how to achieve it? Sometimes it's an easy edit; other times it is not. Unfortunately, this was one of the not easy times. And my stress began.
The piece I'd envisioned would celebrate the eminent and enigmatic Frida Kahlo in a modern, pop-art styled painting. Using bright colors, I'd replicate her face, with those famous brows and a flower crown, over the large canvas and it would be modern and cool. Each face would be the same. And this is what my mind zero'd in on for the last-minute major edit--what would be special about matching faces; what would stand out?
And I was already well into the process--faces, hair, and eye brows had been carefully, tediously completed (my sore upper back attested to this). But as I surveyed the brows, knowing only the flower crowns had yet to be added, I knew--it was all wrong.
OK, I thought, I'll just do one flower crown and then that face will be the pop of fun on the canvas.
That should work, right?
All of the sudden those repeated uni-brows were crowding together as if to say, hey, it's getting a little busy here don't you think? I mean, Frida's brows are a singular icon. I'd managed to take that effect away by repeating them on every face. Not the right symbolism, not the right look. Not right!
OK, I thought, I'll just have to paint over the brows--I was using acrylic paint which is thicker, so I thought this would work. I got to work feverishly, as the clock ticked. Another reenforced truth surfaced: lighter paint doesn't do so well with covering up darker paint. All of the brows I'd painted over were moodily showing through upon drying. Hideous.
OK, I thought, now what??? The piece was currently ruined. Enter Screaming Emoji to capture my feelings. Stress. Anxiety. Why was this happening???
Enter Elton to the rescue. Swooping in as he is prone to doing at signs and sighs of trouble from me, he quickly suggested an idea that surprised me with its simple logic--paint thinner to remove all of the paint in the problem areas & then repaint. Sure, that would likely work, though it would take time...but worth it to save this and me!!!
However, I didn't have paint thinner on hand and it was too late to go buy any, so..."How about nail polish remover?" Elton suggested. Whoa, wild idea, but...yes, that stuff is pretty good at removing color. Right, ladies???
Soaking a cotton ball, I tentatively touched down on the canvas, not sure what the actual effect would be--sure enough, layer by layer the paint came off, until all of the black from the brows had disappeared. Now the faces looked like they were wearing white bandit masks. Time to repaint!!! HURRRRRYYYYYY.
So I did.
And I finished.
I waited until the next morning to add the flower crown so I could enjoy the process a little more, and it was the perfect touch. I loved it.
It's nice that the piece turned out so nicely, but it is especially meaningful due to the rather dramatic background story behind it. Significance is always rooted in context. Now, always and forever, "Finding Frida" will remind me of 1) the screaming emoji, 2) nail polish as a solvent, 3) Elton's irreplaceable role as a sidekick, and that 4) Take 2 or 3 or 4 or ... is always better, even if it is hard.
I'd say those are some good life lessons to find out for oneself, and I'm thankful for the late-night-but-not-too-late education.
"Finding Frida" is available as a fine art print in a variety of sizes!
© Anika Zebron Design, 2016. All rights reserved.