The Martyr, Oil on Canvas, 12x36, Fall 2006 (sold)
I feel like this is a safe painting overall. It's more of a generalization, and that's what I mean by it being safe. Painting it has helped me see that I have become too careful when painting subjects that may be touchy to some. In fact, most of my paintings are examples of this. I look forward to becoming a bit more expressive in the future in terms of speaking about certain things or voicing my own opinion in my work. Funny really, but I mention becoming more expressive in the future, when in the past I was far more expressive than I am currently. Most of my recent paintings have been an experiment in injecting the voice back into my work. It almost seems surreal to me that I have misplaced that element when it’s the most important to me. It used to be so huge with me, but over time, the voice grew softer and softer. Or perhaps my way of saying things just became a lot more subtle. This painting touches on that a bit, but like I said, it still feels too safe to me. It did help me get something out though, and move on from being dragged down by the feelings that martyr-types can ensue. Maybe that’s why this vision came to me - because my soul was telling me to purge and move on. I feel like the end result is a cross between the subject(s) I was intending to paint and me. Subtle as it may be, it captures the subjects' actions as well as my own actions in response to them.
When I first got the thought to paint this, I didn’t know exactly what the image meant to me. The idea evolved as I painted it, and general shapes and thoughts began to form into more detailed shapes and thoughts. I’m satisfied with the overall outcome of this painting. It taught me a great deal about myself, and how others have an affect on me. And it also showed me what I am capable of and what I still need to work on, both in terms of skill and of voice. But like The Muse (below), this painting came from within, and I try not to judge myself too much when that occurs. The Muse and The Martyr are paintings about my own dealings with what I'm going through in injecting my voice in my work. Aspects of things I do like and things I don't like about myself, I think. Well, that's what everything we do is really, but what I mean to say is that these were not planned (as the Self Portrait with Mask was). These are more the act of speaking spontaneously. They were painted in the Fall of 2006. It feels a bit strange to write about them now because I have changed quite a bit even from then. But as critical as I may sound in this post, this painting and the Muse are two of my own personal favorites.