Thursday, November 3, 2011

Latest Work: The Journey

The Journey by Marissa Arterberry, 2011. Gouache, ink, watercolor on paper, 30" x 22"

The Journey was inspired by a woman I saw at an airport. She was walking with her friends and laughing. She wore sparkling orange harem pants and her hair was in two puffy pigtails. I wondered where she was headed to, or where she had just returned from. My curiosity about her journey caused me to reflect on my own travels east and west, between Brooklyn, New York and Oakland, California. Two places I have called home for most of my adult life.
 I decided to paint this woman and have her journey reflect my own. In the painting, she goes back and forth, using many different modes of transport, including skateboard, boat, and rainbow. 

I painted this journeying woman with suitcases full of flowers to represent her "baggage" (past experiences that produce negative thoughts and weigh you down). Her bags are filled with flowers because she has done a lot of inner work on her journey to let the past and negativity go. What she carries is light as a feather, it doesn't weigh her down.

                                 I mainly painted this woman moving and searching, but I also painted her resting as well.  Rest and reflection is an important part of movement and finding answers. Sometimes my best ideas come in dreams. The paper I used was some I found on sale at a Paper Source store in San Francisco. I fell in love with that lovely shade of pale pink, and the paper has pink flower petals pressed into it. One of the wonderful things about painting with watercolor (I'm still fairly new to it, I have always been an acrylic and oil on canvas kind of girl) is discovering all these different types of paper and surfaces I can work with, and seeing how they interact with the paint. Watercolor is a very delicate and meditative medium, one where the artist has to let go a bit more. Sometimes those colors just go where they want to, or bleed into each other, and it's okay.

I listened to Joni Mitchell's album Hejira almost constantly while painting this piece. The song that resonates most with me is 'Black Crow', it's about searching for one's home. This song was kind of like my painting rocket fuel.