I will never forget the conversation I had with one of my favorite cousins in a Texas Roadhouse nearly 10 years ago. Leslie ia a few years older than me and has always been the ‘cool cousin’ I looked up to….the way she dressed, the way she spoke, the way she could command the attention of an entire room of people with either her hilarious stories or captivating dance moves (Leslie, if you’re reading this, don’t worry: I won’t mention a certain amazing Tina Turner routine you are begged to do at every wedding reception, that will be our family’s little secret) Even this past weekend I called my cool cousin for some advice because when faced with life decisions from outfits to etiquette I often think “what would Leslie do?” Anyways, back to the life changing chat we he had in that chain restaurant where they throw peanut shells on the floor with reckless abandon. She had just left her friends and family back home and moved to Florida in hopes of finding in work in the (at the time, mysterious to me) yachting industry. While we waited for our margaritas and bloomin’ onion to arrive, I asked her what in the world had made her decide to leave everything familiar behind and start a new adventure in an unknown world. Her answer was inspiring. She said something to the effect of,
“Let’s say my life is a painting and I am the only artist that gets to decide what that painting is going to look like. I can do whatever I want with this painting. I can make it bold and colorful or I can make it calm and peaceful. Maybe I want to put some bright pink over here or some pretty blue over there….whatever I want to do it’s my painting. Everything I do in my life is adding something to that painting, and I can make it look however I want. The only thing that matters is that in the end, I step back and say, I made something beautiful. I guess lately, I just didn’t love how my painting was turning out. I wasn’t feeling inspired by what I saw anymore so I decided to start with a blank canvas and make a new painting.”
Now that wasn’t a verbatim account of what she said but the sentiment is the same. At first when Leslie stared telling me that her life was a painting I wondered if maybe she’d had too much tequila already but when she was done explaining I could only wonder what I wanted my ‘painting’ to look like. The thing I loved most about Leslie’s metaphor was the idea that we all have the freedom- and ultimately the responsibility- to make our personal painting as beautiful as possible. And if you don’t like how it’s turning out, you can always rinse off your brushes, choose some new colors and paint yourself a new life.
“Everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” ~Helena Bonham Carter
“Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It’s all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.”~Chuck Palahniuk
Art, at its simplest, is a form of communication.
This is an especially pertinent subject in my life at the moment as I redecorate my boyfriend’s apartment. Actually ‘redecorate’ might not be the right term because I’m not sure that what he already had in here really counts as decor. Basically I am starting with a blank canvas which is great, but somewhat overwhelming. I find myself having an existential identity crisis every time I’m in the throw pillow aisle of Home Goods…. “Which pillow defines my personal style?A bright chevron or a subtle neutral ? Maybe a black and white graphic? Am I more bohemian-modern or eclectic-classic?!?!?”
As if choosing the perfect throw pillows aren’t enough to keep me up at night, there was an even bigger problem I had to face. Unfortunately the only thing the boy had hanging on the walls was a HUMONGOUS monstrosity of a painting that some friends had handed down to him. Right away I could see why they’d decided to part with it. 4 feet x 5 feet of hideousness dominated the main living space in his apartment and made my life a living hell. It was like having an offensive roommate that never left. After a few weeks I realized the thing was giving me anxiety and finally I decided I just couldn’t live with it staring at me anymore. It is currently resting against the wall facing in, mostly because I don’t think it can fit thought the door but also because the boy feels bad about throwing it out. Warning: the following image may trigger those with a sensitive gag reflex.
it’s just so bad
As a compromise, I suggested that I would buy some canvas to COVER the beastly piece and paint a new focal point for the room. You know, one that doesn’t look like it belongs in a strip mall chinese buffet from 1987? So that’s the plan and I am so excited, except now that opens an entire world of possibility. What to do with my blank canvas?
In preparation for my creative endeavor, I’ve done what any girl would do: I started a pinterest inspiration board. Here are some of my faves:
At any rate, I’m certain that whatever I end up painting will be better than the horrible rust and mustard colored thing that I’m covering up. And I guess if I end up not totally in love with what I create I can always ask myself “what would cool cousin Leslie do?” She wouldn’t be afraid to paint whatever she wanted on that blank canvas.