Without fail, I've cried every time I see her. I often ask myself what it is about this painting that moves me so. Is it the story of Joan of Arc, her passion, her mission? Is it the beautiful naturalist style of the work, controversially combined with the two surrealist angels Joan saw in vision? Can you see them? I missed them the first time. Perhaps it is her sheer size (I've included a photo with me and the painting so you can get an idea). Like my 8-month-old seeing the Christmas tree lights turn on for the first time, there is a sense of wooooah......
I think the real reason I cry whenever I see this painting is because I wish I had painted it. Have you ever felt that way about something? I look at Joan and think, "your face, your skin tones, the folds of your dress....and those wrists have got to be the most beautiful wrists in the world.....why can't I paint something like that?" She intimidates me. The tears are those of stress and fear. Fear that I will never be the artist I want to be. Fear that I will spend yet another day doing everything an artist is supposed to do (including blogging about art) but not actually painting.
I have been procrastinating a painting commission I need to finish, and my wise husband suggested I make two paintings: one for me, and one for the person who commissioned the work. The idea behind this is that with the version I paint for myself, the pressure for it to be perfect will be gone and I will lose the fear to start on the project. I think this is helping. I started on the painting yesterday and made some progress, but told myself the entire time that this one was for me anyway, so I could just have fun with it. We shall see.
I used to have a quote hanging on my door that I looked at every day. It said, "If it didn't have to be perfect, I would try...." At one point, that thought was the driving force behind me finally recording a CD of the songs I had written, a goal I had been procrastinating for ten years. Perhaps I need to hang that quote back on the door. Maybe this time I will allow myself to paint and make mistakes and struggle and in the end, have my work look absolutely-nothing-like Jules Bastien Lepage. And be okay with that.