Opposites Attract

The first finished painting in my new series has turned out wildly different than I expected, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

The collection of six paintings–which includes elephants, sea otters, and butterflies, among other fauna–began as an art licensing idea for Valentine’s Day cards, and they were supposed to be sweet! As I stumbled away from ever worsening divorce complications and limped through the swift demise of a confusing rebound, however, my cute little animals became tragic instead.

Too much work had gone into them to quit. Pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, gouache, oil, acrylic–I had really poured my heart into it, probably as a way to stay sane through trauma. I was lost with them, though, because they certainly weren’t commercially appealing any longer. But I had no idea how such lingering sentimentality would fit into my fine art practice.

Then I realized that these paintings had stayed true to their original purpose after all, wherever they fit, and all my frustration vanished. They capture the raw emotion I felt for months and months, and they are quite comforting to me. Much like a greeting card and much better than well meaning divorce chit chat. I imagine it’s a similar feeling when a loved one dies and you’re forced to sit through clumsy condolences. Most of what people say makes you feel worse.

In particular, the monkey and the chicken are so obviously not a great couple! I’ve discovered people to be invested in the survival of others’ relationships beyond reason.

“No! You guys are perfect together!”

“But you looked so happy on Facebook, what happened??”

And the worst:

“What about your KID?! How could you DO this to him?” (Well, by golly you’re right. I have never considered my kid in all of this. Silly me.)

Of course, I’ve done the same thing to divorcing couples, and I think it’s a reflection of my own anxiety in the knowledge that all worldly attachments eventually bring pain. And, if your relationship doesn’t last, that means mine might not either. That’s darn right personally offensive.

But, I mean, come on. What were a monkey and a chicken ever going to offer each other from the beginning? I think if we admitted that many romantic partnerships are like this, maybe we wouldn’t need so much self-medication.

This was Mean Greeting Card #1. To see the others in this series, go HERE.

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4 Responses

  1. How incredible and honest. It’s so refreshing to see an artist, mother, an Aries full of fire, create such a unique idea. Your top notch Sarah. A real classy woman. Thanks for keeping the bar high. It pushes us to dig deep and really come up with soul work. To look at that which we want to avoid. Your work hits on every emotion and captures the essence so divinely.

  2. -A says:

    Love your expression of how the idea changed over time through an obviously tough time. I think it turned out great in the end and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the series. Too often, we tiptoe around breakups when sometimes a straight dose of reality is what we need to set ourselves free. It will be great to see this out there.

  1. June 13, 2018

    […] Fast forward to April of 2018, and some extensive self-discovery work to heal from a horrible, two-year-long divorce. Most of my progress was recorded in paint, and I realized how important the act of painting had been to my healing process. Read my earlier posts about my return from the dead, Some Things Can’t Be Left Alone, and the new art series that quickly followed, Mean Greeting Cards. […]

  2. January 2, 2019

    […] Small wins. Last year roared in with with a fresh divorce and followed up with the constant change of adjusting to single working motherhood. I catalogued everything with a new series of artwork, and a soul searching blog post as I released each one. Close-ups of the work are featured above, and you can see the complete undertaking HERE. […]

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