The Process

by Jamie Orr

 It has always been somewhat of a challenge for me to describe my art. In college, I remember having to stand up in front of the class and talk about what went into the pieces I produced, and being terrified. That process introduced me to a level of exposure and vulnerability that I wasn't comfortable with, especially at that juncture in my life. Most of the time when I stood up there, I would downplay the emotional side of the piece and talk about technique and outside influences instead. And then, there was that one time when I was breaking up with my boyfriend, and actually did let my guard down to talk about it, and my teacher (who I am sure had excellent intentions) belittled my emotional experience. As you can probably imagine, I didn't try that again for a while!

For my senior art show, I created a huge four-panel piece that shocked most of my peers. It shocked me! This is because it was all dark blues, and blacks, and a lot of texture. It was clearly a bit tumultuous, and unexpected coming from the smiling, blonde girl standing next to it. To deflect from the emotions and thoughts that I was actually feeling when I painted it, I told a story about how I was inspired by a recurring dream I had growing up about tornadoes. While I really did have this dream, that wasn't what the piece was really about. My life at that time was rough. I was unsure about graduating, my relationship with my boyfriend was ending, my family relationships were strained, and the list goes on and on. So when I sat down to paint, all that stress and anxiety came out. It was the most therapeutic way for me to sit with and work through all those emotions, and it is the sole reason why I gravitated towards abstract expressionism from that point forward. 

Flash forward 10 years and you'll find a secure, confident woman in a much calmer place in life. However, no matter how "stable" my outside world is, I am constantly pulling from past and current emotional experiences whether I choose to or not. It's usually something that just happens, which is both the beauty of the process and the reason why articulating it is so difficult! I'm a firm believer that some things should be kept private, especially when art is concerned. I want people who view my work to draw from their own thoughts and emotion, feel what they feel, and see what they see. One of my favorite parts about posting my work on instagram has been reading about what people see when they look at my work. Most of the time, it's something I would NEVER have seen myself! So this blog thing will be my attempt at letting people (who are interested) in on how pieces came to be, without telling them how they should feel. I'm excited to finally open myself up in this way… and I hope you enjoy reading:)