As a multidisciplinary artist who paints and writes songs, one of the most common questions I get is, "What comes first, the painting or the song?" The answer is neither. It's the concept that comes to me first. It's a spark that flashes within my mind and I feel compelled to communicate it as thoroughly as possible. Sometimes I'll write about it first, and other times I'll work on the visual aspect of it depending on my mood. There's so many layers to an idea and when I create it's through layers of paint and sound. Each layer has meaning and is an integral part to the entire piece.
This most recent series of paintings and songs is all about the layers. On the surface Blood Sweat Tears is woman venting about how her marriage and family life is falling to pieces and how she's coping through violent sex and workaholism. Deeper down it's about how we have a preferred self and a shadow self. When we face loss or some kind of tragedy we often revert to a shadow version of ourselves as a coping mechanism.
My shadow self is something that I explore through my songs and artwork. In a way it's a confession of all the horrible feelings I held inside for years because I didn't want to let go. I called this series of paintings Blood Sweat Tears because it really is a wonderful symbol of the creative process. Blood is representative of life and intimacy. It's the fuel that feeds the creative spark. Sweat is the process of crafting all the layers and organizing them into songs and paintings. Tears are the release. Once the idea has been meticulously crafted, it's time to let it go into the world. It's a literal release of material into the marketplace, but also a form of closure to a chapter of my life.
If you've been following my progress for the past year or so, you should be aware that I'm mixing my literal blood, sweat & tears into my artwork. I've posted a few videos here and there of my process. To extract my sweat I would engage in a sweaty activity and then use paper towel to dry myself off. I then would then puree the sweat soaked paper towel in a blender and add the pulp to my sculpting medium. I essentially used the same process for the tears. To make myself cry I would watch the Star Trek: TNG episode 'The Inner Light,' which is the one where Picard lives an entire lifetime in 20 minutes. I challenge you to watch it and not cry.
Here's a video of my sweat extraction process.
Extracting blood, was something I agonized over a bit. I debated using menstrual blood, but decided against it mostly because I wanted "pure blood" free of all the other stuff that comes along with period blood like uterine lining, vaginal mucus and bits of tampon. I considered cutting myself, but I didn't want to promote self-harm in any way. Finally I found out that one of my friends draws his own blood when ever he has to give a sample for medical purposes, so I asked him if he'd be willing to help me out. By far this ended up being the best option because not only is it safe and sterile, but the viles are vacuum sealed and the blood stays fresh.
Here's a video of my blood extraction and the method I used to incorporate it into the painting.
It took several days to complete my first piece which is longer than it normal takes me if I'm just doing a painting. I had to wait for the plaster to dry between layers and I'm this was my first attempt at sculpting.
The end result was pretty cool. My "release" of the painting is me reciting the lyrics to the song as a dramatic monologue. Call me old school, but I believe words are very important in songwriting.