Info on the Brotfabrik page about my exhibition: http://brotfabrik-berlin.de/event/stephanie-barnes-ronny-johne-going-with-the-flow/2018-03-02/
This is a blog post about some recent experiences I have had receiving feedback from other artists about my work. In one case the feedback was negative and criticized me and my paintings, the other was overwhelmingly positive.
In both cases the feedback was unsolicited by me, although in the first case I had asked the artist a question about his experience in the art world, I did not, however, ask him to critique my work.
I did not know the first artist.
The second artist is someone I have known for about 6 years. I trust her and respect her as an artist and a person.
In the first case, the artist’s comments seemed inconsistent and I wondered if he even looked at my work before providing his unsolicited feedback.
In the second case, the artist congratulated me on the evolution of my art and complemented the professionalism of my work (her word, not mine).
Not everyone likes my work, and that’s fine, there’s lots of art that I don’t like too; I am not offended by people who don’t like my work. I am often curious about why and will often engage in a conversation about my art and what it is that they don’t like about it. Often it is too energetic or colourful or they want to “see” something in it, or they just don’t like abstract art—it’s not my paintings in particular, it’s a whole style of painting. And that’s okay, they’re allowed to like or not like things, that’s what makes this world a wonderful place: the diversity of thought and likes and dislikes.
I do think it’s important to keep an open mind when looking at other people’s artwork. If they are sharing it either publicly or privately, it is clearly something that is important to them, something they are passionate about, it is a story that they feel compelled to share in whatever way they are able to. I think you should show and interest in that, out of respect for the other person and their journey, and because you might learn something that informs your own thoughts and experiences (and creative practice, if you have one).
My paintings tell a story of personal growth and development, and have become more confident and complex as I have continued with my practice. To me they illustrate the complexity of life. Where they started out simply as an expression of joyful chaos, they now combine that joy and chaos with heartbreak and loss. Such is the nature of life.
Either that speaks to you or it doesn’t. In the case of the first artist, I would suggest that it didn’t, in the case of the second artist I would suggest that it did. Neither is right or wrong, that’s just the way it is, given their own individual life experiences.
Am I going to stop painting because someone doesn’t like my painting? No. I paint because I find it to be the best way to express things that I can’t put into words. I paint because I have to. I have stories to tell, that can only be told through my paintings.
I paint, therefore I am.
A Piece of My Heart (Author Unknown)
One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.
Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said “Why, your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but it was full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.
The people stared — how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine. Mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”
“Yes,” said the old man, “yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared.”
“Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love, is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”
The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his.
[Thanks, to Don Jackson (http://heartbeatoftheinternet.com/) for tracking down the text for me.]
The following essay was written about my art by an art critic who reviewed my work here in Berlin. The critic wishes to remain anonymous.
I long to be heard.
Words and pictures; not words or pictures.
I long to be whole, not half.
My struggle is to be…
In 2014, the year that Germany celebrated its 25th anniversary of reconciliation, Stephanie Barnes knew in a single instant that she was going to move to Berlin. In this AHA moment, she was united between her fated pathways of opposites, as a twin born under the sign of Gemini, seeking reconciliation in her art.
“In December, it was a feeling of being home, even though I was standing in a kitchen filled with someone else’s belongings, and only two suitcases of my own with me,” she recalls of her visit to Berlin, just a month after the reconciliation celebration. “The other moment, in February 2015, it was feeling homesick for Berlin after being away for 2 days, on a 16-day business trip.”
The artist being at home in a city representing division and reconciliation for the world comes with a feeling of wholeness and integration. Barnes sees a parallel between her emotions expressed in painting and that of the German nation. This inner/outer composition between her inner feeling of reconciliation and the external reconciliation in her new environment is a theme working its way through her art.
“In Germany and in Berlin, the reconciliation is between east/west, communism/capitalism, homogeneity/diversity–the group versus the individual,” Barnes muses. “On the personal level, the reconciliation is between left and right brain, knowledge management and creativity, business and art, standing up for myself and belonging.”
For Barnes, the journey to integration extends from her birthright as a twin born under the Gemini sign of the Twins. “Who am I?” is the question she asks, and seeks to answer, with her painting. Her passage between the opposites as businesswoman and artist has led to the discovery of a language to access the energy built up from the tension of balancing life in the corporate world with her life in art.
Paradoxically, the process of working the image through this eternal question of identity has brought her into a rediscovery of words: “The integration and reconciliation of my logical business half and the creative, painting, artistic half is my own. I am not half a person, I am not only business/knowledge management/process; I am not only a creative/painter/artist. I am not half a twin. I am a whole in a set of twins.”
Yet, she sums up her passage of reconciliation through the opposites that is her birthright with a single word: JOY.
Do not by my art if:
- you want it to match your sofa
- you want it to match your carpet
- you want it to match your room
- you normally buy landscapes
- you are looking for something in it: a bird, a flower, a tree, an animal; it’s not there
Buy my art because:
- it moves you
- it speaks to you
- you are drawn to its colours
- you are drawn to its energy
- you are drawn to its power
- you are drawn to its strength
- you are swept away by emotion when you look at it
- you can’t stop looking at it
- the messages it conveys touch your heart
Do not buy my art because:
- you think you should
Buy my art because:
- you can’t live without it.
I installed my show, “The Masks We Hide Behind” at Leaside Public Library today, it hangs until August 31, 2015.
Artist Statement for the show:
The paintings in this exhibit were completed in 2013 – 2014, and were an evolution from the unbridled joy and sense of going with the flow of my earlier paintings to a recognition of the masks and layers of expectations that we hide that joy behind. These paintings are about starting to reveal/show that joy to the world; breaking through the masks and expectations.
I hope you’ll go take a look, if you get the chance.
Leaside Public Library is at 65 McRae Dr, Toronto.
Some pictures of the completed hanging: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.988264797860666.1073741845.592798060740677&type=3
Yesterday (Nov 15, 2014), I painted live in the window at Serendipity Bistro. I started at 11am and finished just before 1pm. It was fun to see people watching me from the other side of the window, and enjoyable to talk to those who came in to look at my paintings that were hanging up, and take a closer look at the works-in-process.
I have posted pictures over on my Facebook page so you can take a look at them there, https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.847966831890464.1073741841.592798060740677&type=1.
My artist’s statement for the exhibition:
My creativity evolved from drawing and photography, which were representative, into painting that is an abstract expression of self-discovery.
My painting is what keeps me sane. It is a constant reminder to stay in the present and go with the flow. It is informed by feelings and experiences, thoughts and spirit. It offers a means of expression to thoughts and feelings that cannot be expressed in words.
Even the expression of negative emotions, like rejection, is transformed into joy when translated into paint. This is palpable in the mixed media installation piece present in this exhibition
Rejection evolved from an exploration of “The Masks We Hide Behind” and the “Escape” from those masks and ideas that can be perceived as an oppressing cage. Rejecting the external world and the stifling social conformity, we stop hiding who we are and step beyond that sense of rejection, eventually learning to stand for the truth, regardless of what comes.
Narrative for my mixed media installation called, Rejection:
The piece originates from the society’s rejection of human differences —not allowing the individual to show who he/she really is, whitewashing feelings and beliefs, wants, and desires for acceptance’s sake. It develops into a partial opening towards what we feel, but still subconsciously fearing rejection. In the latter phase of the metamorphosis the rejection is left behind, to ultimately stand in our own truth, openly showing who we are and what we believe in—and accepting the risk of potential rejection.
I will be part of a joint show with Connie MacLeod at Women’s Art Association of Canada–Oct 2 to Oct 16, 2014, details here http://www.womensartofcanada.ca/events/1518/We-Have-No-Secrets-Opening-Reception/2014-10-3.
If you’ve been following my posts on my Facebook page, I will be showing my latest works, so it will be a chance to see them in person.
Hope to see you there!
Just to let everyone know, I will have paintings in Le Tour du Monde at the Women’s Art Association of Canada. It opens March 7 and goes until March 25.
I will be at the opening on Friday night, March 7, 5:30pm until 7:30pm.
Hope to see you there.