I would never forget what she said to me. “You deserve to stand out.” And while I appreciate my dear mother’s sentiment, this wasn’t the way I wanted to stand out, if stand out at all. Ironically, I found myself as many others, wanting to stand out by blending in.
There was a time when I wasn’t always shy about standing out. When working on my college senior thesis. I befriended a fashion photographer who helped photograph me in my designs. However, it was here I started judging my appearance. I didn’t like my nose. It’s not small and perky and I don’t have full, majestic lips. I found myself rather plain disappointed seeing pictures of myself. That ended me, myself, as muse.
This is when I found not only solace behind the keyboard but my heart and soul. Writing was where it was for me. It is me at my essence working on my mission. Here, as I developed characters, I looked outward for inspiration - historical figures, people in the news and even actors and actresses. Even though, I find myself in each book I write, my study is the essence of someone else.
Then came the selfie craze. For artists and writers who tend to look outward for inspiration, selfies may seem a bit weird. I honestly do not understand the concept of selfies. Seriously, how many pictures do I need of myself? Friends of me with friends and family, sure but just me, I don’t get it.
As I started painting again after nearly flunking out of art school, I looked to those who inspire me...not just their physical appearance, but their essence and soul. After some time, I thought myself? What about my essence and soul? Shouldn’t I be studying myself? Am I losing myself in my own artistic practice?
The process of painting a muse is a deep study, not just the subject’s facial features or body, but the curl of their lips. Is it a true enthusiastic smile, a wily smirk or a frown? What’s the look in their eyes. Is there desire, anger, fear? What are their imperfections? What I found is my paintings don’t look like the muse at all yet captures my muse’s soulful essence. This is my art.
Painter, paint thyself. Is it merely a selfie in paint? Why self-portraits?
It’s not merely my image, but the process is getting a deeper understanding of myself. What’s in my smile, the look in my eye and appreciating my own imperfections. But mostly, it is an exercise in self-acceptance and self-worth. Yes, I am worthy of being a muse, as we all are.