I was sitting on my bed, as I do every morning, writing things in my journal I am grateful for. I looked up and saw this miniature hut hanging from a hook on the wall that my boyfriend at the time had bought me while we were on a trip. I don’t think he realized it, but it’s significance to me was huge. To me it represented being true to myself and my vision, and I felt that he was in his own way recognizing that.
Yes, I know, female circular logic! But the reason for that – and the reason I keep the miniature hut in my bedroom is because I want to remind myself of the lesson I learned while painting two rather large hut paintings. I had come home one night after a really fun date – and painted two huts from just what was inside of me. I didn’t use any reference material, I was just going with my feelings, and remembering some huts I had seen in Hawaii on the Big Island.
When I took the paintings into my painting class, which was filled mostly with women, I was told the huts weren’t realistic because of their roofs, and that my islands looked like tree branches. They joked that I was painting bird cages. On and on they went. So I changed the paintings, to try and address some of the outside criticism I was perceiving. And subsequently, hated those two big paintings.
A few years later, a friend of mine came to my studio and bought a small sketch of one of my huts. A sketch I had done that first night before putting paint to big canvas. He loved it. It really connect with him. And I realized that he was connecting with my original vision. After he left, I took those two big hut paintings out and painted over them – this time sticking to my original vision. It was a very freeing experience.
And the funny thing is – since then, those two paintings and similar images have resonated with a lot of men.
So I learned two things from those hut paintings: 1) stay true to my vision in my art; and 2) not every painting is right for every audience. Just because one audience doesn’t “get” it, doesn’t mean the piece won’t resonate somewhere else.