About a year and a half ago, frustrated to hell with my lack of motivation, I decided to break up with painting. It really did feel like a romantic breakup. I cried a lot. I felt I had lost my love for the medium. It just didn’t feel the same anymore.
I spent the following year working in an office, commuting an hour there and back. I felt like I had to grow up, so I moved to an unfamiliar place sight unseen and took the first full time job I could find. I told people I was moving to LA to be closer to the art world, but I had no real intentions of pursuing art there. To my surprise, I kept making art, even painted here and there. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I expected.
Ever since I graduated, I’ve been mulling over my college experience, and the more I think about it the more I realize how insular and narrow that environment was. Although they never said it outright, it was pretty obvious that my painting professors considered observational oil painting to be the highest form of visual art. Illustration, graphic art, even watercolor painting was looked down upon – again, not explicitly, but subtly. I felt I could no longer justify doing these things that I had loved, because they didn’t mean enough. I ended up painting in a style that was really similar to my two main painting professors. I don’t regret my experience. I learned a lot, and I’m thankful. But maybe I had to stop painting for a while so I could find my unique voice again, and that’s what these past few years have been about.
During my last five months or so in LA, I worked on one small painting. It was the view of the Del Taco sign facing our apartment windows, which blared its neon red and yellow light into my bedroom as soon as the sun went down. I hated that view at first. Painting it was an act of scorn. But as I kept painting, I began to find it oddly beautiful. By the time I had quit my job and was packing up my belongings, I felt downright sentimental about that Del Taco sign, in a way I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t painted it.
Now I’m back in familiar surroundings, among friends again, and I finally have time and space to think about creating in new ways. I’m trying to indulge every creative impulse, even if it’s unoriginal or meaningless.