I’ve been establishing a few new social media avenues for sharing my artwork, and have encountered my usual temporary, uncomfortable feelings of being observed. Yes, I’m seriously hard-wired as an introvert. Want proof? The night after I joined Facebook, which I was circumstantially forced to do, I dreamed that a herd of sheep and horses broke through the fence around my house and trampled through my backyard! How’s that for feelings of invasion? I do love my solitude.
Simultaneously, after twenty or so years, I am re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy. In the second book, Perelandra, a completely pure “Eve” character is being introduced to the concept of self consciousness by a totally corrupted “Unman.” Ransom, the protagonist, helps to keep her thinking right. Here’s a tiny excerpt:
[Unman:] “A man can love himself, and be together with himself. That is what it means to be a man or a woman - to walk alongside oneself as if one were a second person and to delight in one’s beauty. Mirrors were made to teach this art.”
“Is it good?” said the Lady. “No,” said Ransom.
So my little entrance into social media converged with my thinking about Lewis’ observations of self.
While working in my studio, I don’t think of prospective viewers/buyers. It’s difficult enough to avoid interruptions while painting without inviting an imaginary on-looker into the process. (I do pray - but that’s a different kind of invitation which actually turns down the volume of self.) But when the paintings are finished, then comes the next step of taking the work to others, i.e. sharing/showing/marketing/selling which of course, now includes that aforementioned vast social media. For a variety of reasons, presenting art to the public has commonly been an emotionally complicated endeavor for many artists, so how much more complexity is there in presenting it to the cyber-public? At any rate, as my art and I are launched out into the wild blue wherever, I am grateful for Lewis’ reminder to avoid that off-balance state of being overly aware of the glance of others…and not to walk alongside myself.