Maybe it was because I was reading Linda Barry’s book, 100 Hundred Demons!, for the fifth or sixth time. (A great book that I would recommend to just about anyone.) Maybe it was because I had been flipping through the pages of a biography of Remedios Varo and admiring her Aquiline nose. (She’s one of my favorite artists.) Or maybe it was because I had promised myself that for my next journal pages, I would think less and just do more. And maybe it was a bit of all of those.
I’m not sure why last weekend, after I not-too-carefully created a background for my next journal page (thinking less, doing more), I immediately felt that the page “needed” the head of a Roman statue in the lower left. It was the simply the first thought that entered my head, and I was so confident that it was right, I went with it without question.
Since I had no idea how to draw the head of an ancient Roman statue, I pulled out some art history books to look at some examples and get some ideas. After that, I sat down and drew some basic attempts. So far, so good. I still liked the idea, and I was still confident the composition of the page would turn out nicely. (And no, I had no clue what it meant that I wanted to draw a Roman statue in my journal. Remember, I was trying to think less. It didn’t even occur to me that I do not have the skills needed to copy the work of some of the greatest artists of all time.)
Next, I got my journal out, turned to the page, and drew the head of the statue with my very creamy, very black, Derwent drawing pencil. I looked at the finished page. And my first thought was, “How did he get here?”
Because in my attempt to draw a Roman, I had really draw an ex-boyfriend. The one I dated through most of high school. The one I lived with for three years after graduating college. The long nose and small mouth, with that same expression he would get when he’d close his eyes and tell me exactly why my behavior was so disappointing to his upscale, uptight family–yep, that was him.
Looking at the page, I felt a little weird. How could he still be haunting my mind? How dare he show up in my artwork, uninvited? I put the journal away and didn’t work in it again for three days.
But three days later, I felt better. I decided that since he had been reduced to a two-dimensional piece of paper, he would no longer hurt me. And I thought about how my journals should be a place where I resolve issues–not re-live them. But most of all–I am not about to let an old boyfriend keep me from creating in my journal.
So I promise to be more accepting of other demons who make an appearance on my journal pages. If I’m going to draw, I need to be willing to see what gets drawn out.