Sunday, 8 April 2018

Guilt, Art, and Being a Woman

                           Acrylic on paper-experiments with my new palette knives.        

Are there any females who don't live with some degree of guilt?  I often wonder.  I hope that there are and that my generation is the last to feel it, but perhaps I am fantasising too much.  Guilt comes from the pressure, real or imagined and likely both, for a woman to be all things to all people, to do everything well, and mostly to do it for others.  And she should of course look hot while doing it all. 

I am achieving the latter merely due to menopause.

This blog is in danger of becoming obsessively focused on my painting as the previous incarnation was on personal colour theory.  The uniting theme is colour, to be sure.  I imagine myself on my deathbed, commenting on colour in some way.  Probably I will dislike the colours of the hospital room.   

Morbid thoughts!  

Where was I?  Oh yes, colour and painting and guilt.  Currently I am feeling guilt because painting has taken over my life and I'm happy about it. Why the guilt?  Because it takes me away from other things and I mostly don't mind.  Although sometimes I do.  Painting obsessively ( there should be another word as this one perhaps has negative associations-I mean to say I am painting as much as possible when not sleeping, resting or making dinner and the motivation to cook is quite low. ) .....

...painting for hours a day is exhausting in a way that makes me happy, the way I suppose people experience a runner's high or the thrill of climbing a mountain.  I feel guilt over choosing to exhaust myself for something purely selfish because somewhere in my stupid brain is firmly lodged the idea that I should/must only exhaust myself in service to others.  I suspect this has kept me from so single-mindedly pursuing art for most of my life.  That and the need to work for an income.  At this point in my life I am very fortunate as I have enough to live on modestly, a supportive partner and very little in the way of shoulds or musts in my life.  There is nobody other than ME causing this guilt.

ME refers to both myself and M.E. ( myalgic encephalomyelitis ) because the latter is why the former gets so exhausted from several hours of painting a day.  The guilt I am specifically feeling is over the lack of getting out for a walk.  There is correlation involved here though perhaps it's not the cause I think it is.  I haven't conducted a truly scientific experiment.  The weather has been terrible and both Jim and I were feeling quite run down.  Our walks dwindled and we haven't been out in a couple of weeks whereas the goal of three times a week was being readily met for awhile.  It was being easily met when I wasn't painting so much.  As the rain came and the walks dwindled my desire to paint burst out and I haven't experienced this level of immersed passion since my days as an obsessed gardener.


Ahhhh gardening.  I miss it in many ways though it too was exhausting and eventually formidably so.  When I look back on how I gardened, although I know there was pleasure in the physicality of it, of being outside, sinking my hands into soil, the fresh air, the birds, gardening for me was very significantly an art.  I was focused on arranging plant forms, shapes, textures and colours into a desired effect.  In non-gardening weather I spent hours planning, researching, looking into new plants.  I also dug up and moved plants constantly in order to improve the effect I was creating with them.  If I didn't like a certain colour combination it had to be changed!

Back on topic, sort of:

Writing doesn't induce the same level of guilt that painting does because I can write in bed.  I can write when my body is so fatigued that anything else is out of the question.  But painting needs the same level of energy I would need to do housework, exercise, take care of other people, all of those female-assigned jobs.

I don't have a solution.  I could list all of the sayings, quotes, bits of advice that I've ever heard or read but the truth would be that they only work a little bit.  We all have to deal with our own responses and my task is to try to deal with this guilt.  Perhaps it is your task too.  We can at least take comfort knowing we are on that journey together.

                                    Can't stop making these little multi-coloured women. 


  1. Ooh palette knives loosen things up. Good move!
    Totally understand the guilt. Mine is with music. That is why I started my BeautyScopes, to try and help others through art. Not sure I met my objective.
    I love your multicoloured women.
    The need to make your life count and help others is sooo ingrained! Thanks for more food for thought.
    xo Jazzy Jack

    1. I'm sure you met your objective! I need to be reminded that my art counts, that it might just bring some joy to others and that we need that in this world. I tend to forget that and think I am just supposed to be doing chores. I completely neglected chores today!

  2. I love your multicoloured women...I also love that abstract, I love it a lot!

    I don't know about other women, but I do feel guilty often.

    1. Almost every woman I know expresses struggling with guilt. I suspect it will be a lifelong challenge for me. Good luck with yours!


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