The art of being me

On Friday morning I sat for an hour in an art gallery looking at a sea of paintings of people from times past; a few were of religious significance to the Christian faith, others were special commissions to show the sitters proclaimed importance and others were of a person in the crowd watching an event unfold around them. I considered how times had changed as saw people around me reaching for their mobile phones to take selfies of themselves with paintings they liked as captured themselves in that moment. I opened my sketch book and started to think on how I would draw me, with the opening lines of the Ben Folds’ Five song Best imitation of myself playing in my head.
In times past I would have drawn an ogre with big ears and nose, as thought with all the laughing and pointing to comments on how ugly I was that must be a fair representation of how the world saw me. I sometimes wish I had MC Escher’s talents, as love Hand with reflecting sphere as to me it is the ultimate self portrait but it is way beyond my drawing ability as an artist. However, as drawings are highly subjective, unlike photographs that are regarded as non-subjective as fixed in time and space, it made me question who I am at that moment looking at these great works of art.
I have learnt to appreciate, respect and love the woman I am but in my head at first it was more like a cubist portrait by Pablo Picasso, for example Woman in hat and fur collar and The weeping womanIt was then I saw a rag doll image in the style of Picasso enter in my mind, so it was that I focused on as I began to draw. As I drew the form became less rag and Picasso more patchwork one. For each patch was something that had happened in life (good and bad) in the past (be it yesterday, last month or over three decades ago) that has left an impression on the person I am today, stitched together with love, respect and appreciation of those closest to me.
I also acknowledged whilst drawing that I have faults,  I am not perfect, but then again what or who is? I smiled as thought of the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi, which is  sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. The paintings around me had looked so perfect at first glance and thought of modern popular culture pictures, which are heavily stylised and edited to create images of people that are unrealistic. In the same way I would never know how realistic these paintings were of the people in them and how much was to the artist’s interpretation of the person(s) there in.
As I finished my drawing I decided it belonged only in my sketch book and not have a life beyond the book as not everything we see or do needs the world to see it. For art to me is a personal way of telling the story in heart and soul, life’s journey at that moment in time, giving it voice, sound and colour. Thus, perhaps in time I may paint a picture that looked more like those in the paintings in the gallery, but knew the one in my sketch pad was just as beautiful because it represented some things nobody could take away from or replicate if drawing or painting a portrait of me, as was me by me.
© Fi S. J. Brown

The Beautiful Ones

These days it is easy to be hard on ourselves if we do not meet the airbrushed, “perfect” image, we see in newspapers and/or magazines to websites and social media. People that we are told are “beautiful” yet feel the boy in the emperor’s new clothes when realise they are not.

Remember, this is not the world’s view on what is beautiful and/or perfect. In fact perfection is a lie we have been convinced exists, look at flowers in a field or garden, they are all shapes, sizes and colours as we are. Make up or surgery do not enhance beauty, but hide or trap what makes us unique.

Ugly is not a trait of physical beauty but in personality; with greed, envy and jealousy that eats away at them over time. Sometimes it can be seen in the eyes as darkness as it has eaten away at the soul till there is little or none left. Making them blind, unable to appreciate or respect another’s way of being.

It is easy to compare ourselves to others, convincing ourselves they are far more beautiful and/or their lives are easier or better than our own. Stop it now. Few of us know another so well that could make that comparison and in fact only we know the true ourselves. Find, accept and respect them always.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Wabi Sabi Woman

I am a Wabi Sabi woman. I am far from perfect but what or who is? We all have quirks and idiosyncratic ways that give our personalities colour. We are all also fighting to bring down walls and barriers other people put in our way. They also may try to box us in or put walls up but together we can break them. Nobody is abnormal, failure or a freak, how we experience and live this life is different for us all. Pause to reflect the journey so far but not dwell on it and let the roots from that show who we are today. Equally, remembering what and who we are today form the roots of the future, if we’re putting off that choice or decision – do it. Finally, be gentle with ourselves and others, be a light in the darkness not one that switches off the torch.
© Fi S. J. Brown 

 

Imperfect

What is perfect? Does such a concept truly exist? We all seem to strive towards it, yet it seems that it is permanent flux and not something that can truly ever be grasped. How two people see perfection maybe very different; one may look to remove any trace of so called flaws or imperfections and this maybe from wearing glasses to their inability to do a task or the beliefs they may hold; where as the other may share some of these ideals, what makes it perfect to them maybe quite different, brunette vs. blond for example.

When we look for a partner we sometimes develop a fantasy of someone we’d love to have, yet even if someone looked say like our favourite celebrity crush, what of their personality? Does it not say far more about someone than an outer shell does? Sometimes we try lose weight to reach that “perfect weight”, which even if we did make, maintaining it is far harder, so is it really so perfect? Also supermarkets that want all they sell to be a certain way, uniform in shape and size, so they are “perfect” by their standards.

Take a step back and the ridiculousness of it jumps out, like the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” pointing out to all that nothing is truly perfect as highly subjective and unlikely. Imperfection or flawed is something that is frowned upon, yet can be seen wherever we turn from rust on the door handle to grey hairs or wrinkles upon our face, and the four from six glasses now left from a gift from a friend. Writers to painters and musicians all strive for the perfect work but isn’t what they create beautiful because it is not?

We see images in the media from newspapers to magazines and websites to social media altered to show someone else’s vision of perfection as how they actually look is imperfect; the image the camera took needed to be altered or manipulated to meet an idea of a perfect image. What is wrong with seeing someone how they actually are? On a person do flaws not show character and their story? In a writing song with lyrics and music it is creating a balance not reaching for a perfect blend of both. Is imperfection not in fact real beauty?

From Japan comes the aesthetic term “Wabi Sabi”, which can be defined as: “a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.” Perhaps we need to learn to see this more in the world around us, not replacing something because it is old and dated, or broken and chipped, even dying hair and botox injections. Who are we really to judge something or someone as perfect, when the world around us imperfect and flawed by nature?

© Fi S. J. Brown