Tuesday, October 05, 2010

this is bothering me.

Today in Painting III, we had critique the entire class. I went last. The mood was generally pretty good all through the crit-- surprisingly good, maybe, considering how crits usually feel (anyone who's sat through a critique knows what i mean). The teacher had brought in coffee & donut holes; i suggested this was her way of trying to get us to talk in the crit, & someone named Margaret i talk to sometimes said she talks a lot when she has caffeine & was generally being pretty funny ("These brushstrokes just speak to me! Such poetry!" in an exaggerated way). And really, all through the crit, that seemed to be the general mood. People were talking & laughing & it was actually pretty nice.

But my critique is bothering me. I had three canvases up; one apparently the teacher wants to see more finished, one i've just started. The problem i have is with the first one.

This is all going to sound ridiculous, but i feel uncomfortable with how people are perceiving it. Like, genuinely uncomfortable, & it keeps sitting on my mind. (Maybe it's the fact that i've basically had three cups of coffee today, but i don't think so.) People are perceiving it as being humorous, as, i think, poking fun.

I'm sure anybody reading this just went, "Okay, why the fuck is this such a big deal; jfc."

Part of me finds it somewhat interesting. Like how people misread what she's holding & what's in her mouth. I genuinely don't understand where people are getting the humor from, even though i myself have a sort of ambivalence towards the subject matter. But i feel like... i don't know, i didn't mean this to be funny, & this is kind of worrying me. If i paint someone dressed in a geeky sort of way, will people then assume that i'm lampooning geeks? I didn't mean to paint this in a way that reads as "funny" to people; i wanted people to draw their own conclusions, yes, but i also wanted people to see a person. Which maybe seems at odds with my usual views towards society & people, seeing as i'm so cynical & crap; you'd think that i'd be like, "Yeah, funny! Make fun of this person! Yeaaah $7.99!" I mean, the $7.99 was a mere starting point because i had no clue what to paint. But really, i can't quite put my finger on it, but this kind of reaction unsettles me.

I think i might be able to explain it when i mention that my teacher says she sees humor in my sketchbook. I have never seen myself as a humorous person; i have never seen my sketchbook as humorous. I put in some things that are funny-- things that happen, things people say-- but overall, it's kind of a catch-all, & more & more i find myself putting in things that are the total opposite of "funny" or "humorous," even if it's not obvious. And other times, i just put things in, without any ulterior motive.

Just, listening to everyone saying, "Oh, this is humorous. You have a certain kind of humor. Maybe that's part of your artistic lexicon, even if you don't feel it's 'you,'" made me feel uncomfortable. And maybe, maybe it's because i feel like, here i am, once again unable to articulate myself. I don't want to make humorous work. It sounds bad, somehow, putting it like that, but i really don't. And i always feel like i can't express myself-- can't even do it now-- & so, to kind of get this major sort of misread (i feel like that) on something that i'm "supposed" to be "good" at by now is just demoralizing. It's like, Great, once again, i've fucked up & people aren't picking up what i'm putting down. People just sort of go, "Oh, she's funny; look at her trying to be standoffish; what a funny picture." Maybe i expect too much of viewers, but i was hoping for a wider read of it. Of, yeah, maybe she's funny, pathetic even.... but aren't you, ever? Can you seriously laugh at her? How do you know you're reading her right, in her clothes, her stance, the $7.99 floating over her head? You guys thought she was smoking when she wasn't. How do you know you're not seriously misreading this? Can't you step back & think a little more on it?

I also feel almost affronted to have my sketchbook mentioned as humorous. It sounds stupid & i know it, but it's really, just... I feel like it's a misread plus an assumption. It's like assuming that everything i have in there has some sort of spin on it, when really, a lot of the time i think that most of the stuff in there is really genuine, more so than anything i may make out of the book. I don't want someone looking at the "replaceable" page, for example, & thinking that there's some humor in there because of how i made it. There isn't. There's, i don't know, irony, maybe, in the stickers & bright colors, but i would feel really upset if i was misread that badly. Because of the emotion in it. I feel like "emotional" might sum up at least my sketchbooks, & i feel upset by the idea that people are reading it as "humorous." Because really, i find so little humorous.

And it all just makes me feel like now i have to do things in a certain way in order to get my point across. It's like in the rest of my life: what do i have to do to get people to fucking realize how i feel? How am i supposed to get points across to people, that i'm not trying to be funny, that i don't want to be? How am i supposed to be able to paint certain subject matter without people instantly assuming that there is humor there, that i'm lampooning someone or a certain group of people? Can't you have a bit of lampooning but try to get the viewer to see that, hm, this is another human being? Instead of just, "hey, humorous!" & seeming to leave it at that, not read further into it?

Seriously. Nothing i ever say or do seems to get across to people. Not verbally, not through writing, not visually. I never seem to be able to articulate myself well enough; i'm always taken the wrong way, words are always put into my mouth. I'm just tired of it.

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