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"Hope Afterall" -thoughts behind the painting

"Hope Afterall" -thoughts behind the painting

Do we get to choose how we feel? Or does it just somehow happen to us?

If we do get to choose, then why wouldn’t we choose to be hopeful and optimistic? What forces take us away from that possibility? Why would we ever choose to be pessimistic or even depressed? Doesn't that prove that we can’t help it?

I don’t know.

I think we all experience a sort of swaying or tension between feeling hopeful and feeling hopeless. Usually our life experiences and habits influence this pendulum. This tension is what I am exploring in this painting “Hope Afterall”.

I applied the conventional assignment of light/warm colors representing hope, and then dark/cool colors representing despair. My goal was to illustrate the tension between these two opposing forces. The painting started with dark/cool tones and lots of movement between forms. Then I intentionally layered warmth to try to let “optimism” dominate. 

I let the layering offer a symbolic veil in which the viewer tries to see what is underneath. This further illustrates that hope is what comes as we build our life experiences up, and gather wisdom along the way. The forms are still visible and are carried along into the new image, so it is not as if we can "erase" past regrets or trials. They live on with us, but have a veiled presence, and their place in our psyche is repositioned, not erased.

This type of undulation exists in a very three dimensional way because life is not always linear. Sometimes we have to go through similar trials, learning our “life lesson” more than once. I see it as sinking down below the water, drowning in despair, collecting a “life lesson”, and then somehow coming up for air and seeing the beautiful sky above full of possibilities, full of hope. This movement in and out of the water is also the same movement in and out of the image I created. You can squint and press through and see something underneath the warm hopeful colors and then you can be floating on top, just looking at the outermost, lightest colors. 

Everything from conception to completion of this piece was done with clarity, and in a way, simplicity. I knew I wanted to illustrate the idea of the light overcoming the dark. I knew it was a universal concept, and I almost abandoned the project for fear of being too cliché. But I guess what I am offering this time is the focus being on this tension between the two. 

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have “hope” win. It’s not that I believe that always happens, it is more about making it happen in a small painting because I, as the artist, have that power, or perogative. And also (maybe more importantly), I, as the artist, needed to feel comforted at that particular moment in time. In some way, I wasn’t feeling hopeful or optimistic, so I used the painting process to lift myself up and out. Now it is as solid as anything in life. It is a painting that lives in the world and takes up space. I feel very satisfied with its completion. I feel that it is a painting that needed to happen.


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