Trapped In The Dark by Victoria R Wolf 4-13-24 original

Trapped in the Dark

When I started this painting, I didn’t know I would have a completely new understanding of the word trapped.

Last weekend, I was ready to paint. I had not created a painting for over a month due to a back injury and moving. I was somewhat excited but mostly fearful.

Fearful? Yeah, fearful. It happens quite a bit, even with my book cover design. The thoughts creating the fear go something like:

“Will I be able to create something as good as the last one?”

“Will my brain work in a creative way today?”

“What if all my best ideas have already been executed?”

I think other artists feel the same way. I’m assuming I am not alone in this, and if I am, well, it makes me just a little more unique.

In planning this painting in my head earlier in the week, I had the idea to put down a heavy base of white modeling paste and then add texture by pressing a booze bottle sleeve into the wet paste. I put down that base a few days before the weekend, and the process went exactly as planned and gave me a wonderfully textured canvas upon which to create.

Trapped In The Dark by Victoria R Wolf texture example

We used these often when RVing to keep our wine and liquor bottles safe while moving our house from place to place.

I would love to show you what it looked like at that stage, but unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.

Standing in front of my heavily textured canvas, I was struggling to find a way to start. Usually, I have a color story in mind, but that day, I had nothing. So, I just threw down a color, purple, and started the painting.

Well, two hours and many other colors later, the last bit of paint I added to the canvas was intended to cover up the horrific scene in front of me. Oh, the pain and shame of what I created were staggering.

I told myself it always ends like this when I don’t paint for an extended period of time, and that made me feel a bit better. I also told myself I did not have to go back to this canvas, EVER, if I didn’t want to. I was free to move on to other canvases and forget this ever happened.

I fully intended to show you what the canvas looked like at this point, but, again, I forgot to take a picture, sorry!

I cleaned up my painting mess and proceeded to work on not letting the experience ruin my weekend. It was a challenge, considering my first show was seven weeks away, and I needed to create to have enough inventory for all my shows. It was quite the mental brawl for a few hours, but in the end, I won, and put the failed painting out of my mind, mostly.

I say mostly because it did linger over the next week. Every time I looked at that canvas, I shuddered with a tinge of fear. But I think I needed those moments and they helped me process all that went on in my head about it.

Yesterday, I decided that I had to revisit the failed canvas even though I told myself a week earlier I could leave it be forever if I wanted to. Well, I did not want to.

I had thought about what I would do for a few days and felt less fear as I got started on the “new” painting. I listened to Josh as I started, and he, as always, put my head in a good place. As I started to get my footing and feel optimistic about the outcome, I switched to listening to David Cook to give me the good vibes I needed to unleash my “don’t think so much, just create” painting ability.

I was having fun, and the painting was coming together. I was happy, and I had successfully vanquished the demon painting.

As with all my paintings, I don’t analyze what I am feeling when I paint. I just paint with the goal of getting my subconscious to speak as clearly as it can and then let my subconscious mind direct the techniques. But halfway through the painting, I had a very strong wave of sadness come over me. It brought tears to my eyes and caused me to stop in my tracks.

I took a step back from the easel and connected to a place of darkness inside myself. It was an emotional and physical interaction and an acknowledgment that dark places truly do exist inside me. I don’t interpret it as a bad thing, but rather my self’s way of connecting me to a part of my truth. I have darkness inside me, but I also have light. The light is much greater than the darkness, and I know that. I was awestruck by the experience of that connection and knew I was on the right path with my painting.

And that’s when I “got it.”

Sometimes, my light is trapped in my darkness and has a hard time getting out. The heavily textured parts of my painting trapped me in many ways as I tried to paint them. I felt my options were more limited because of the texture and that really hindered my creativity.

But, when I made this connection, the painting, and my creativity opened up to me. If I feel trapped, it doesn’t mean I don’t have the power to get myself. Trapped is not buried. Trapped is not done, dead, finished, or without hope. Trapped means there is a problem to be solved. Like an escape room where you are essentially trapped until you figure it out, I just had to find the clues to lead me to the light.

Trapped In The Dark by Victoria R Wolf closeup 01

Closeup of part of the painting.

I employed vibrant colors, many stencils, mark-making tools, and even some scribble-marking (my own made-up word). I am very proud of how “Trapped in the Dark” turned out and grateful for the process by which it emerged.

Painting continues to be the best teacher I’ve ever had.


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