I’m going to change up the mood here for this one… I always joke that my pictures have no meaning whatsoever and that I’ve never drawn a symbolic image in my life, and this is 99% true. I usually do pictures like the one below called “Banana Boat”: a toucan riding a banana out at sea with a nautilus chasing him… or accompanying him. I’m not sure of the dynamic these two have. But either way: ????
And for real, i have absolutely no clue what it means or why i drew it or anything like that. It’s just simply what it is: a toucan, a banana, and a nautilus (albeit 3 things i absolutely happen to LOVE all combined into one magistical image). But I feel like with art sometimes, people expect some grand reason behind it, some meaning, some depth, or some expression of something. And that’s what makes it “art”. I don’t know what the dictionary definition of art is, but there are a lot of examples of artists expressing things in abstract or not-so-abstract ways. Par exemple:
This artist’s works represent the new word in painting, the art of the new era, the art of the Future, according to an art critic on a website this picture came from (http://www.itsliquid.com/omar-chkhaidze.html). They had a lot of other good things to say about this artist and his paintings and it all sounded very intelligent and impressive and kind of intense really. They use words like “spiritual paradigm”, “sacred sense”, and talk about how love is the foundation of the universe and how his every work reflects the universe. (i’m totally paraphrasing by the way) That’s deep stuff.
Then there’s the not-so-abstract way:
This one is less difficult to see what the artist is trying to say. In fact, it spells it out for you. The picture is still expressing something and has a lot of meaning to it, but it’s not as hard to get to the meaning or understand it or connect with it.(maybe the other one isn’t hard for some people to grasp, but to me it’s a stretch to get ‘universe’ and out of all those pretty drippy paints… this is why i’m not an art critic)
But then there’s this:
And i love it. Is it expressing something deep, emotional, symbolic, or metaphorical? Probably not. Does it make me smile? yes. And that’s the main thing that counts with art I think. Even if a lot of art is created to express something, there doesn’t always have to be a bigger meaning. Sometimes a toucan on a banana or a literal representation of Mr. Peanut is enough. If it makes people feel something (happy, sad, thoughtful, etc) then as an artist you’ve done your job.
My art usually makes people feel happy, and the one below might do that too, but it might not. It is my one and only picture that does have some intentional deeper meaning and symbolism to it, drawn with a purpose and to express something:
In the beginning of this long and rather off topic post, I said i was going to change up the mood a little bit. Despite the bright colors and beautiful butterflies, it doesn’t represent anything silly or happy or carefree to me. It represents loss and sadness. I’m torn whether or not I should really describe how it represents that for me, because that’s the beauty of art: you might see it differently than me. It could mean something entirely else to you and knowing my meaning might alter yours. I hope not. I guess that’s a chance we’ll have to take though or otherwise there wouldn’t be anything else to talk about… so here’s why it represents loss for me: someone passed away that I knew but that I wasn’t particularly close with. I was very close with some of her good friends and family though and I suffered their loss and grief like it was my own. It was a very difficult time for everyone, and I was reminded how hard it is to lose someone special and to have to carry on daily life without them. Sometimes we seem to be afraid that “moving on” will mean forgetting them, so we hang on to every memory and every little thing that reminds us of that person and don’t let ourselves move forward. I’ve seen this happen before in other people… that they became so consumed with their grief and sadness about a loved one’s absence that it lead to an inability to feel happy or whole again, even many years later, and it still consumes their life. Maybe in a way part of that never does change or heal, and there is always some little piece of you that remains lost and broken, but “letting go” lets you be ok with feeling like you can carry on and eventually let yourself live and feel happy again. Although things may never be the same, part of dealing with the loss is learning a new “normal” and learning how move forward.
For me, the butterflies are the beautiful memories of loved ones and the sadness we feel about their absence, and the leash connecting them to us is how we hold on to them. It may be very tight at first when grief is at its worst. We hold them close so they don’t fly away… so they don’t leave us… so we don’t forget. But butterflies are meant be free and as time goes on we may be able to let the leash out a little, then a little more, and then let it go altogether so our butterflies can fly and dance in the sky. And we let go of some of our sadness and try to be happy again knowing that they are free.