The Velveteen Rabbit

modern-artwork

I came across the above quote on a friends page over twelve months ago now. It struck such a strong cord in me that I could not get it out of my mind. It spoke to me of my own journey of self discovery and the importance of being true to myself. It also spoke to the part of me that wants to see results now.

I’m not generally a patient person and often I take a flippant approach to things that require hard work. I know I will be able to do it if I take the time and work on my skills but I don’t want to take the time. I just want to be good, fit, healthy, more authentic, more knowledgeable etc. now preferably having done no work or having someone else do the work for me. Of course life doesn’t work this way and all these things take time and effort. I know this but it doesn’t stop my impatience or annoyance when I don’t get instant results. So when I read this quote I had a “fish to the face” moment*

I love this quote for its imagery and the power in its words. I love the idea that becoming real is a process that takes time, often years, and is a continual evolution of self. I especially love that there are those who won’t understand what being real means for someone else. This is perhaps the biggest truth in the whole passage for me. I often find myself getting caught up in what others think of me especially in the context of my art. These are things that I need to let go of with kindness and understanding, knowing that it’s ok for others not to understand me because it doesn’t matter what they think as long as I remain true to myself.

big magic
From “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

So of course I wanted to honour the quote by creating an art piece. I had a canvas that was perfect for it so I put that up on my easle…and that’s where the problems started.

Recently I’ve stepped away from what little training I’ve had as an artist and begun exploring various mediums and methods that I hadn’t tried before. I’ve read books, attended workshops, watched YouTube videos and joined the Colour me Positive weekly challenge in an attempt to re-define myself as an artist. I’ve had a lot of fun doing this but often my results seem mixed up, lost or as my partner said of one piece ‘frenetic’. None of them seemed to speak with my true voice and that was what happened here.

The first attempt of Velveteen Rabbit I followed ideas and concepts I had learned after reading “Brave Intuitive Painting” by Flora Bowley. This was awesome fun but the painting became a muddy mess and I ended up painting over it. Next I tried some techniques I had learned after watching some of Mimi Bondi’s tutorials combined with things I had learned at one of Susan Farrell’s workshops. This approach started off fantastically but quickly turned messy as I couldn’t seem to find a way to bring it together. So I walked away from it. About a week later I came back to it and decided to start over yet again.

I took the canvas off the easel and put it on the ground then I took a few different shades of green and yellow and squeezed blobs and streaks randomly across it. Then I got down on my hands and knees and started smearing the paint around with my hands. This was such amazing fun and I ended up with a canvas that was covered in thick green paint. I loved it. Next came the rabbit which was a copy of an image I found online. Again I used various techniques I had learned including a lot of finger painting and in the end I was happy with how he looked. Then I was stuck. I had a big green canvas with a bunny on it but I didn’t know what else to do to bring it together.

Monday was a public holiday so my sister Jak came over for a day of “Arting”. I showed her the painting and said I was thinking of framing him with flowers. She taught me her technique of using modeling paste mixed with paint and then applying through stencils and suddenly I had a border of flowers that worked perfectly. Then it was just a matter of finishing off some detail work and my painting was done.

velveteen rabbit

What I love most about the rabbit is the expression on his face. He seems so content in his sleep, dreaming his dreams, and it’s such a real expression even though he very clearly is a soft toy. To me this painting is peaceful, childlike and whimsical which is exactly what I wanted to achieve. I love the cartoony feel along with all the imperfections as this speaks to me in a similar way to the quote.

I love that this painting took such a journey to get to where it ended up and I love that I made a gift of it to my best friend for her newborn son. To me all of this comes back to the essence of the quote that inspired it. I also love that so many people played parts in it’s creation even though most of them had no idea they had. All of this speaks to me of how life is- a constantly evolving journey that does not often go to plan xx

 

*”Fish to the face” is an expression I use for what most people would call a “wow” moment- a moment when something just hits you, often something that seems so obvious you can’t believe you didn’t see it before. I call this “being slapped in the face with a fish”

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