This is a pretty vulnerable share for me...

Barb Toland

How are you? (Always feel free to scroll down to the comment section & let me know!)

I recognize that this is kind of a one-sided relationship sometimes, where I get a chance to share what's going on in my world with you. But I also want you to know that I love to hear back from you as well, and find out what's going on in your world.

Relationships run both ways, so don't ever hesitate to send me a reply :-)

Hopefully by now you know, either thru my emails, blog posts and/or social media, that I've been working on a new piece for my Becoming Visible series. This one is called, Becoming Visible: Frida — in honor of the amazing Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who was best known for her self-portraits...

Self Portrait for Dr. Eloesser — 1940

There are many reasons why Frida created a number of self-portraits during her lifetime.

One of them was pretty darn practical. Because of a severe accident she was in as a teenager that lead to a lifetime of pain, surgeries & their subsequent recoveries, she painted from her bed a lot. It was during these times that she painted what she saw in the mirror hanging above her bed, herself.

Another was the fact that her father was a well-known photographer, and as a child she was the subject of many of his photographs. So at a very young age, her image was being reflected back to her thru the artistic eyes of her father, which most likely led her to be somewhat reflective & observational of her characterics & expressions.

And then of course, there's the more esoteric side, where she's telling the story of her life's journey thru her eyes — revealing her soul to those who are willing to sit with her portraits and feel/see the truth & beauty of her essential self.

Thinking of Death — 1943
Ok, so here's my vulnerable share for the day: For this new body of work, I was terrified to paint the actual portraits of these powerful female artists.

See, I had this story in my head that I was pretty darn good at painting flowers, trees & things I've experienced in my travels — but the only story I had about painting faces was that I couldn't, that there was just no way that I was capable of doing so!

But then I decided to dig a little deeper and maybe find some proof that painting someone's face WAS possible for me. So I decided to at least remain open to the possiblilty.

And then BOOM ... I remembered a painting I did of my & my sis when I was first exploring watercolor. I also remember thinking that it turned out pretty darn good for a beginner.

And when we were clearing out her home, and I found a print of it she had made from a facebook post, I felt deeply touched & honored that she liked it enough that she wanted to have a copy of it for herself.
Sisters — 2009
I also painted the face of a trombonist, a street musician who was entertaining us outdoors at the Café Du Monde while we were visiting New Orleans.

(Thanks goes to the hubster for taking the amazing photos that inspired both paintings.)

During a watercolor workshop in Bradenton, Florida that I had decided on a whim to attend, I was asked by the instructor to share the paintings in my (meager) portfolio. He was someone whom I admired, and considered a rock star artist in the watercolor world.

When he spotted the painting below, a smile crept onto his face.

He actually pulled it out from all the flower & tree paintings, took a long, thoughtful look at it — and then all he said was, "This one I like."

Well it was all I needed to hear to feel like I had just landed on the moon!

(The rockstar watercolorist was Herbie Rose, 1930 - 2017)
New Orleans Smile — 2010
(The original watercolor is still available for sale on my website)
And I was like, huh.

These two situations were some proof that I might have a shot at this portrait painting thing. They were just enough for me to begin experimenting to see what I could come up with when I started working on Becoming Visible: Nina.

I did sooooooo many studies of Nina Simone's face before attempting to paint the real deal. I was really nervous about it. But once I painted it, I was pretty darn happy with how she turned out.

And so after that experience, and thru remembering the other portraits I had done in my early painting days, I gained a bit more confidence in thinking I could do it.

So when I got to Becoming Visible: Frida, I didn't do a single study. I just put on my big girl panties and went for it...
(I think of this as Frida on a good day. Pain free & happy. Perhaps she had just made love or ate ice cream or walked thru a garden ... but I digress.)

My takeaway for you is this: Don't get stuck in your damn stories!

Be open to possibility.

Then start looking for evidence in your own life that you are capable of going in a direction that might feel a little scary at first. Or look at someone else who you admire, and start telling yourself — if they can do it, then I've got a shot at it too!

You may find just enough proof that you're much more capable than you think.

And then take a step in the direction of your heart's desire ... even if it's a baby one.

Who do you want to be?

Then start to become her (or him).

As a reminder as to what the meaning & intent is behind this newest body of work, Becoming Visible here's a brief summary...

 Becoming Visible is meant to highlight the lives of strong & fiery female artists who, by using their boldness & courage, were willing to be seen & heard for their uniqueness, in a world that wasn’t always quite ready for them. 

 Because of this willingness to look beyond their fears, become visible, and show up fiercely as their unique selves — each of them has had an extraordinary impact on the rest of us.

Frida Kahlo was certainly all of this in her life & work, and so much more!

She was fierce ❤️ 

We're all fierce, if we would just take that first step...

“Can verbs be made up? I'll tell you one. I heaven you, so my wings will open wide to love you boundlessly.” ― Frida Kahlo

Looking forward to sharing more of Frida's life, her art, and my newest piece, Becoming Visible: Frida with you as it evolves.

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram to see how this piece goes ... especially my stories.

And, just as Nina Simone's ornate fan was a surprise ending for Becoming Visible: Nina — there will also be a surprise ending for this one too.

So stay tuned!!!

Have a beautiful day, and don't forget to go run & jump & play as often as you can ;-) It really matters.

With love & affection 💕

P.S. I would love to hear from you! You can do so by going to my contact page and sending me a message ... and if you're a Frida Kahlo fan, tell me why you love her & admire her paintings! Or just say hey ;-)

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