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Article: Something About the Darkness

Something About the Darkness

Something About the Darkness

I'll admit something silly about myself: I'm afraid of the dark. Yes, as a 30-something woman, I'm still afraid of the dark. Well, actually, perhaps it's more that I'm afraid of what could be lurking in the darkness, instead of the darkness itself (I watch too many horror movies, apparently). Regardless, every time I get up in the middle of the night, especially in my childhood house where my parents still reside, the hair stands up on the back of my neck, and I feel the need to run back to my room as fast as I can without falling up the stairs - my knees and shins still bear the marks of a childhood spent doing precisely that. I'm convinced their house is haunted, but that's beside the point. I still feel that way occasionally in my own non-haunted home.

But if we're talking the other kind of dark, the kind that comes with mystery, with depth, even with peace, then I'm all in. That kind of dark is almost warm, comforting - instead of the cold, jump-out-and-get-you dark. It's the kind of darkness behind your eyes when you fall asleep at night. The kind of darkness that envelops you in safety and curiosity.

That's the kind of dark in my paintings.

However, that kind of darkness can also carry darker tones of grief, sorrow, and trauma.

And that kind of dark is in my work, too.

The kind of dark you see in my paintings is me, and I'm willing to bet it's you, too. It may only look like a brushstroke of burnt umber mixed with ivory black and olive green, but within each one contains an infinite multitude of emotions and experiences: living with mental illness, the sudden deaths of friends and family members, an attempt to curate a spiritual practice outside of modern organized religion, traumatic and abusive experiences, a fascination with ancient history and mythology, and so much more.

Those may be things that I see in my work, but perhaps you see other things in it. And that's the beauty of it.

Because the darkness can hold it all. It can take whatever you dish at it, and in return envelop you in its embrace. You can stare into its mysteries and find pieces of yourself that you'd long lost.

So when people make surface-level remarks about my work being too dark, I used to get annoyed. But now, I only think, "Perhaps you might do well to look within yourself." We all have darkness. And we all have light. You can't have one without the other. And I, for one, think the world could do with a little more introspection and self-awareness.

Nowhere better to do that than in the dark.

Until next time,

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