The Paintings (cont)

Painting 2 “I Hate You”

The next painting was created directly after the last one, and I mean exactly that. My brush was still wet from the graffiti as I turned around to hit the next canvas. I was still very upset, however after a couple of strokes I slowed down, stopped myself, and paused…………

“I Hate You” – Acrylic on canvas with small freehand machine embroidery instert

Before I continue with describing my process, let me explain something. I am going to admit to a very odd thing that I do. I am not sure how many people do this, as far as I know I could be the only one, but ever since I remember, and on a regular basis, whenever I feel all those types of negative feelings such as, upset, embarrassed, hurt, ashamed, angry, bitter, nasty, sad, alone; every single one of these feelings seeps in and takes over. 

It is a horrible spiky feeling, that creeps down the back of my head, over my shoulders and melts into my entire body. Like liquid breaking down the fibre of a paper towel, every time I feel this sensation I need it to stop. I say to myself over and over again, “I Hate You, I hate you, I hate you, stop it, stop it, stop it.” I close my eyes and repeat this “mantra” probably about 10 times maybe more, depending on how strong and fast the emotion is moving. With this process, the bad feelings recede and I can move on with my day, easy, right? 

Back to my studio…… As I closed my eyes to start my mantra, my breath began to quicken as I realised that this time it was not going to work. I started to panic, what was I going to do? This horrible feeling was going to take over, so I did the only thing I knew, I painted it, channelling all that energy onto the canvas. 

It was as though I was in a dream, the room was quiet, I opened my eyes and calmly started painting the entire canvas in black long delicious strokes. I found peace with the wet and glossy paint moving over the canvas as I carved out the negative imprint of my mantra. “I Hate You”. Stepping back I felt the words appeared to translucent, not heavy like they usually are, so I came back with a pallet knife and buttered on white paint, making the text lumpy and uneven, contrasting the smooth black out line. This whole process took the rest of my studio time for that day and several sessions after until it felt finished, but was it over?

I got into this head space because of a confrontation (I have mentioned previously) with a”friend”. You see this person, in her desire to punish me, let loose as hard as she could and used the very thing only a close friend could use to hurt another. She threw all my secret self doubt and insecurities at me, confirming every bad thing I think about myself and said they were true. So what do you do with this information? I was devastated, I felt alone, unloved, and sick to my stomach. However this person was wrong, it just took awhile to see it. 

After the canvas was full, I felt relieved, the issue with this person was still distressing but the process had calmed me so I could move on to my next piece. However, now the words were visible every time I walked into my studio, I couldn’t move away from them. I took the canvas off the easel and put it to one side, I could still see it. I flipped it over away from me, but I could still see it. I even moved my entire canvas collection so as to place this one at the back out of direct sight, but I could still see it. Why was this canvas making me uncomfortable?

So I dug it out again and sat with these words with a quieter sense of mind and without negativity. I observed this piece and for the very first time I finally saw the words I had been telling myself my entire life. I was shocked as in this moment I did not believe them, the words felt wrong, I don’t hate myself, I never have, but for whatever reason these words comforted me, they made me feel safe in the belief that I was not worthy, I am not sure how I got to this space (I am working on that one) but the words “I hate you” used to reassure me that I am a unlikeable/unloveable person, I mean if I don’t love me, no one else can, right? 

Now this does sound completely horrible written out but if we were all truthful with ourselves I bet I am not alone in thinking these thoughts, we are just taught to be afraid of them. So being brave and facing my darkness, of which my friend used against me, I realised I do love me, I love all of me, even my “annoying” quirks, as they are what make me who I am, and I do not need anyone to tell me that I am less, least of all me. This realisation made me sad as I felt I had spent many years in a dark hole that I had placed myself in. When I saw this I knew I had to change my narrative. So I found another small piece from an older work of someone crying and in the same colour of her tears I wrote in each letter of I hate you, “I Love You, Quietly, Hopefully, Defiantly, Stubbornly, Resolutely, Fully.” Now the work was finished, right?  

“I Hate You” detail

Well this journey isn’t going to be a short walk, there are many things I have to relearn and change before I can feel secure in this new way of being. I have to let go of thoughts, things and people that hold me in that old negative space I used to call safety, and this will not be easy, as it is all I have known. However as I find myself at the start of this adventure into love, I know I will not be alone, and with every tentative step I take towards self love I have found forgiveness and even a new mantra, “You are Loved, You are safe, You are seen”. 

Be well and safe my friends, the last painting in the series is next. 

Published by allihoward123

Allison Howard main passion has always been story telling works predominantly with illustration and completed her MFA at Monash University, Melbourne 2012. Graduating with the Chancellors award for best Thesis. Allison Has worked and collaborated with many artists and exhibitions, in both Australia and New Zealand. To be kept up to date with Allison's latest activity and to view her current and archived works please visit Instagram @alli.howard123 and hit the follow button.

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