Thanks to Sean M. Puckett’s Happy Place Project, (It’s a wonderful photographic portrait project – follow the link if you’d like to participate!), I’ve had a chance to reflect on what my happy place is. Thanks Sean, for an interesting project and an amazing black and white photograph! Sean had some great questions, which inspired a lot of thought in my answers, which I shared with Sean, and now, I’d like to share it with you:
When you imagine yourself in a place where you are are free to “be yourself” … where are you?
I am in my cluttered (I am messy), stinky (that’s where the cat box lives…but you get used to it over time), sometimes unbearably filthy basement (I’d much rather paint than vacuum), at my easel drawing board, where anything can happen. All of my paint stuff is all around me, within easy reach of me sitting in my comfy art chair, in which I can sit cross legged while I paint. I can also rock in my comfy art chair, and spin in circles. Spinning in circles is great. The tv is on with endless repeats on the H2 (History Channel 2), and if I’m lucky, the guy with the hair is talking about how “it’s aliens!” I’ve got an ample supply of Diet Coke, (which I know I shouldn’t drink) with plenty of ice. And there’s tasty snacks too. The water cup for cleaning my brushes is clean and not yet too gunked-up. There is no phone and no interruptions. That’s important. There is no impending need to check the time for doing something else. Time is not a factor.
My Comfy Chair with a Fluffy Headrest (Photo by A. Ferrari)
When you’re in that space, and when you are being yourself, what are you doing?
I am creating happy wriggly colourful imaginative environments on canvas. Some of these environments are based on reality (from a photo). Some of these environments are totally made up – which is my favourite. In every case, on every canvas, I am trying to create a unified happy space, where positivity and harmony reign, and sometimes weirdness and goofiness take over, which is also kinda fun. I am a master creator, and the canvas must yield to do what I command. Anything can happen, and the only obstacle is my own lack of imagination, intuitive lack, perceptive lack, and impatience. Which is where rocking and spinning in the comfy chair comes in. I am a color mix master, gleefully creating mixtures that I control, and giddily finding mixtures that I didn’t control! Playing with color is so delightful! I’m smirking at that guy with the hair, as he’s stating far fetched but wonderful theories about life from other planets – which spurs imagination and wonder. Sometimes I talk back to the tv, sometimes I talk back to myself. And then my attention goes back to the canvas, and the tv drones on in the background again, being the perfect painting companion. Sometimes I make a huge mess with paint going everywhere. It’s OK – and kind of fun, because it’s just the basement, and it really doesn’t matter if I get paint all over the floor or chair or wherever. It’s kind of liberating to not have to worry about making a mess. Ideas are coming easily, and the brushes are being cooperative.
The Beginning State of an abstract painting. (Photo by A. Ferrari)
My Box of Paint Mixtures (Photo by A. Ferrari)
What are you wearing?
I’m wearing my baggy painting pants, with paint drops and smears everywhere. I can sit comfortably crosslegged in my baggy pants. I wearing my paint shirt, which also has paint wiped and smeared all over it. My paint shirt is my wipe rag, and it doesn’t take long for a shirt to become encrusted with my acrylic paints. In my happy place, my paint shirt is relatively new from the thrift store, and the odd thrill of ruining another shirt is at its peak, and the shirt is also at its peak absorbency and usefulness as a wiping rag. I am wearing socks to protect my feet from the dirty floor. And my hair is out of my face with whatever barrette or headband or hat I have handy, because painting with hair flopping around my eyes is distracting. Sometimes I think that my hat is a magical painting hat, and it is making my brain work better for painting. Perhaps the result of listening endlessly to such outlandish ancient alien theories all day. There is no aluminum foil in my hats. 🙂 My painting glasses also somehow manage to get paint on them, but I get too involved in my painting before I remember to clean them. My wedding ring is safely away on my dresser. Being left handed and painting much small detail means the wedding ring gets in my way and so rather than taking the chance of losing my ring in my messy art lair, I keep it safely away and secure. Any other items like bracelets, watches, necklaces, or earrings are a no go for painting. They are too distracting like the floppy hair. Even nail polish is a no go, because I would be sitting there picking and peeling at my nails, which would be distracting. Due to the kitty cat, there are cat hairs everywhere, and my wiping shirt seems to attract cat hairs. And then the hairs get on my paint brush and sometimes end up in my painting. That can really be annoying. In my happy place, the cat hairs are mysteriously absent. My painting chair sometimes has the feature of a kitty cat head rest/neck warmer, which is surprisingly not that distracting. The purring is calming and wonderful and helpful. The paint also ends up on my face, usually my nose, because I itch my nose sometimes. Sometimes, I’ll go out after a painting session, and strangers will let me know I have something of my face. I must really remember to check the mirror before going out into the real world. I really don’t mind the paint on my forearms or hands or fingers. Sometimes I’ll do a quick color check on the back of my hand or finger, just in case the effect of simultaneous contrast is messing with me and I want to see how the color looks on a different background, such as my skin.
The Kitty-Cat (Photo by A. Ferrari)
Who is with you?
I am completely alone, with the exception of the kitty cat and the tv guy. So I can talk to myself, talk to the tv guy, talk to the cat, and there is no self-consciousness about any of it. I can sing that stupid tune that is stuck in my head…”Who let the dogs out? Who? Who? Who! Who!…” until the stupid tune plays out or the guy on tv says something interesting. It’s not as peaceful if the husband is in the house, as there’s always a possibility of impending distraction, or perhaps him wondering what I’m saying when I’m not really saying anything as I’m just talking to myself or the kitty cat or the tv. Having said that, my husband is always with me in my heart and in my head, as I think about what he might say about this thing or that as it gets painted. He’s usually very perceptive and appreciative of my paint-scapes. He gets me! I try to keep everyone else out of my head, and that’s where the lovely guys on the tv come in. The tv guy gives me ample distraction from useless thoughts of other people, but the tv guy is not too distracting as to take my attention away from my painting. The kitty cat is usually nearby, whether acting as a headrest/neck warmer or a sleeping (and amusingly snoring) entity in a nearby comfy chair, we are usually together when I’m alone in the basement painting.
Are you willing to be photographed in that situation?
Only if you’re brave enough to face all the chaos, dirtiness, and mess down in the basement.
Photo by Sean M. Puckett