I visited the High Museum of Art while in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago. As I was studying some paintings by Vuillard, Monet, and Matisse, I started to notice the parts of their paintings that looked incomplete---the raw canvas showing through, the unclear marks, the ambiguous shapes. I was drawn to these parts. These parts were, for me, the parts that gave the painting life and light, and these were the parts that I enjoyed finding hidden throughout. They challenge so many rules of what is complete.
This is painting by Henri Matisse titled "Femme assise devant son piano." Notice her hands, especially the one furthest away. They are so sketchy and blurred, but they make such on impact. They make you believe she is playing a song, not just posing for a picture.
At the college I went to, we were taught to never leave raw canvas showing, especially unintentionally and to really work up a painting for it to be finished. Paint something, paint it out, paint it back in, even thinking about it know, I get overwhelmed. Haha. There were so many of these rules that great art should have, and I can just remember having those rules at the end of my brush every time I painted.
Not too long before I graduated. some students were talking about these rules of composition, color, drawing, etc. My painting professor told them something along the lines of: "Well the rules are there for you break, you just have to a good reason to or it just has to be good." My mind was blown. Haha. But it was the most freeing statement I had heard since studying art in college. I started to feel that freedom in my work. I was reminded seeing those paintings by Vuillard, Monet and Matisse that I can break the rules. I feel like I am truly starting to understand what it means to have that confidence in my work.
I painted a landscape on canvas a week or so ago that I left more raw canvas showing than I ever have. I was so nervous to show it to others as finished painting. I felt like they would deem it incomplete.
I think this lack of confidence I feel in the "incompleteness" of my art work is a response to the incompleteness I feel in my life. Thinking that this job, this art event or sale, this next phase of my life, having kids, getting married, etc. will somehow make me more complete than yesterday. I am guilty of putting earthly things/life events/successes above the one and only thing has ever made my life complete.
I can accomplish every goal I've ever set, every dream I've ever dreamt, literally every thing I could imagine in this life and still feel as incomplete as when I started. Jesus is what completes my heart and my life. The only thing that ever has. I know this to be true, but I struggle everyday to live knowing this in full confidence.
"And you have been made complete in Christ.."
These paintings are an exploration of confidence in myself, my work and my faith. Even though these paintings and my life may have some areas that some would say are incomplete or unfinished, I am choosing to be confident that these paintings are complete to me, and I am choosing everyday to be confident that I am complete in Jesus.
I hope to challenge these "rules" of completeness in my first painting series of 2020.
I hope to cling to the truth that I am complete in Jesus, and nothing can take that from me.
Thanks for reading!
Shelby Leigh Kizer
More like this to come!