Stage 3 – ‘Every Emotion is of Equal Value’

The adventure continues! Much to my surprise, it has proved significantly easier to paint the ‘negative’ than the ‘positive’ emotions in ‘Every Emotion is of Equal Value’. I had expected it to be the other way round.

It made me think of actors saying how much more thrilling it is to play a bad character than a good one. Or, when admiring The Day of Judgement fresco on a Renaissance altar wall, it is the damned souls that are of the greatest interest; and I’m sure they were the more interesting to paint – all those tortured ways of going to hell(!)

I began to question why I was finding the negative emotions easier to paint. I don’t think it is because we feel the negative emotions more than the positive ones. Feelings of joy and regret can be of equal intensity. For me, I think it may be something to do with the negative emotions – hate, anxiety, shame – leaving behind a more visceral memory. If you asked me the last time I felt shame and the last time I felt joy, I would be yanked back immediately to the shame point.

So here’s a selection of some of the painted ‘negative’ emotions.

HATE, detail of ‘Every Emotion is of Equal Value’, oil on canvas

Hate is black and white. There is no grey. Hate imprisons us. I knew this had to be a strong image – and this one just appeared.

ANXIETY, detail of ‘Every Emotion is of Equal Value’, oil on canvas

I wanted Anxiety to masquerade as a pretty colour, just as anxiety masquerades as planning and preparation. And just as this pink has turned dirty and full of barbs, so anxiety can turn from planning to a barbed, trapped existence.

SHAME, detail of ‘Every Emotion is of Equal Value’, oil on canvas

Ooh, shame … boy does it have grippers. I have shame points going back decades; they are murky and turpid. But in amongst the murk burn flashes of embarrassment. Shame flames.

One thing’s for sure, this is proving to be a fascinating project!

6 Comments

  1. How interesting to discover that. But you’re right, baddies are often so much more layered than angels in popular culture. I wonder if it is also that we love to see things that we wouldn’t possibly do in real life – pure schadenfreude. Did you go deep into the emotions as you were painting them?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do think hate has the uncompromising appearance of the emotion. Anxiety is attractive at first but I can see what you’ve done with the emotion pulling you in until you’re trapped. I find shame strangely beautiful though, with a hint of unease beneath.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Once again, Andrea, thank you for all your feedback. It is really helpful and I appreciate you taking the time.
    It is a delicate balancing act since the object of the exercise is to make each emotion of equal value. So even the ‘negative’ ones hopefully have some element of attraction about them. 😆

    Liked by 1 person

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