she is a landmine

she is a landmine that i haven’t yet learnt to defuse. weeks may pass, sometimes months where i tread my terrain with ease, i dance a complicated choreography over, under and around those hidden munitions with precision-like timing. i’m the artful dodger, dodging artfully. as artfully as a dodger can dodge. on those days when i tell our story and sing the songs that were ours i do so with a melodious intonation. i’m a rockstar rocking in my rockstar car.

until i’m not. step and stumble and click. the radio torpedoes a song i’m not prepared for. i’m reminded again why i only listen to my playlists. playlists are predictable. i know what’s coming next. there are no latent surprises on spotify. i’d stopped listening to the radio the day i fell apart doing a hundred on the freeway, the freeway that didn’t exist when she did, because when she existed life here was small and there were no roads taking us away to other places. doing a hundred through the sting and blur of tears is chancy at best, an invitation to dance with death himself at worst and who’s to say that’s a bad thing.

my car was once a cocoon of cigarette smoke and fast food trash. she sat beside me, making waves on the warm breeze with the passenger window down. the scent of her, stale tobacco and impulse – the purple one – a blanket to tuck around and under me when the world threatened to unravel us both.

sometimes i spy her in my peripheral vision, but if i turn my head to ask her why, she dissipates into the upholstery and i figure it’s because she can’t really give me an answer that would readily satisfy me.

there are streets i can’t drive down. familiar streets where she waits for me in her long black coat and sad red-lipstick smile by the kerb i once collected her from on her way home from somewhere that belonged to another part of her life, a secret part that she kept from me because she had her reasons and it’s too late for me to ask her what those reasons were.

i can conjure so many things about her. the way she squinted when she smoked. the way she fell on me when we were both wrecked on the tequila with the tiny sombrero cap and told me that she loved me, that i was the sister she wished she’d always had and she smiled her sister-smile just for me. the way her hairspray smelled and made her hair crunchy and i could feel its coarse springiness on my skin when we bent our heads close in cahoots with one another, when we’d pass a pen and old notebook back and forth over cappuccinos paid for with the loose change we scrounged together, and tell our story to each other even though we both already knew it by heart.

i can conjure so many things, but her voice? her voice is nothing more than a whisper deep in the soft marrow of my bones that i can’t quite hear, saying, goodbye i’m going don’t try to stop me i won’t take you down with me your place is here.

I Wish
i wish we’d found art earlier. it might have saved you too.

raw with more

i have stashes of old paintings in various parts of my studio. some are tucked away on a bookshelf, others sequestered in plastic display folders and then hidden in a drawer.

some are in journals that are then stacked precariously upon one another, never to see the light of day.

little pieces of me, quietly gathering dust and waiting to be rediscovered.

i forget what i have. sometimes that causes me to believe i haven’t been very productive at all. that i don’t have enough to stock an etsy store.

last week i decided to start collating, scanning and photographing my finished paintings. it’s a tedious task, but a necessary one if i ever want to be a working artist, and i’m easily distracted from it.

it’s the equivalent of having your mum ask you to tidy your room as a kid. you end up finding stuff you’ve forgotten about, or thought you’d lost, then playing with it and making more mess than you started with.

i was that kid.

i’m still that kid.

in april of 2014 (don’t you love that everything is time stamped now so we don’t have to remember dates?) i took one of mindy lacefield’s primitive portraits classes and produced a couple of quick, raw studies on 5×7″ canvas boards. i had the opportunity to sell them at the time, but i felt they were worthless practice pieces and i couldn’t bring myself to put a price on them.

fear? probably. i’m sure at the time i beat myself up for being a big chicken.

but now i’m really glad i didn’t let them go, because when i found them a few days ago, even though i still couldn’t see worth in them as they were, i realised there was the potential to take them further. earlier in the week i’d been playing in my journal with a redheaded, slightly punk/goth girl and decided to give these two old paintings a similar makeover.

they’re such simple creatures, right? they were painted very quickly with big brushes and a limited palette and i loved how raw they were. i wanted to preserve some of that crude technique but give them a little more depth.

i had just two rules.

no expectations and no overthinking allowed, just intuitively grabbing supplies and distressing the hell out of them with a scraping tool whenever they looked too polished.

i used stark reds and lots of black, colours i tend to shy away from for their boldness. i’ve avoided black because other, more experienced artists told me to it has a tendency to flatten a painting, and the only reason i used it here is because i blindly picked up the wrong bottle (right next to the payne’s grey) during my not-thinking practice.

hurrah for happy accidents as i really like the end results.

File 28-11-2015, 12 31 15 PM

File 28-11-2015, 12 30 44 PM

File 28-11-2015, 12 31 45 PM

i’ve since found three more primitive paintings in a similar vein.