I walk into the café around the corner from my apartment. It smells like wood, old paper and freshly ground coffee. I see that my friend who works there is standing at the counter and smile. I walk over and we begin to catch up. We get onto the topic of Doc Martens, a pair of which I am wearing that day. We discuss our favourite pairs and why we love them, the comfort, the solidity, and the endurance of design. I jokingly say, “The added bonus is that they make you look kind of tough, people tend to bother me less when I’m wearing them.” She walks around the counter, looks down at my feet and laughs. “Those have flowers on them, they aren’t intimidating. I hope you have a good bitch face!” We keep talking, but that last line gets stuck in my head.
I am writing an essay and it comes back to me, in her voice, “I hope you have a good bitch face!” I step onto the metro, “I hope you have a good bitch face!” I look out the window of my apartment, “I hope you have a good bitch face!” This goes on for months.
It becomes a low-key obsession for me to figure out why it keeps coming back to me. At the same time, I am beginning my Independent Study for my BFA in Painting. It is a self-led project for which I have secured a supervisor. My original plan for this study was to make a series of contemporary portraits in different sizes and styles, and for them to work together as a cluster at the end. Instead of that, I decide to make a series of paintings about this line that keeps coming back to me. I start with a couple of self-portraits, trying to capture my own bitch face. Then I ask my friends to pose for photographs, imagining themselves into situations where they might want to utilize their bitch faces.
These photographs become the references for a series of large, almost life-size portraits of women in public places.
This is often, though not always, how I am inspired to make paintings. I see something out in the world, maybe the way the light is hitting a mug of coffee and illuminating the steam, how the colour of the mug is complemented by the table and the wall behind it, then I notice how it makes me feel. If it’s an interesting feeling, it becomes something that I want to communicate to others. That inspires my brain to start ruminating on all of the different ways that I might be able to convey the same emotion that I am experiencing to a stranger who might encounter my work.
It also works with sounds, smells, and even memories. Anything that tugs on my feelings and says “I need to be acknowledged” can become the impetus for a work of art. I keep lists of all of these things. Inspiration isn’t the thing that I struggle in finding; right now it’s only the time to make all of these paintings that I’m lacking.
I hope you all had a wonderful week and I wish you a marvellous weekend! I myself will be at the bakery, working with my colleagues to provide Griffintown with excellent bread, food and coffee! Come visit if you like.
P.S. the link to the series of work that I’m writing about is here.