Welcome back to my little art stuff/personal stuff blog. To set the scene it is currently the gloomiest Wednesday afternoon. My plants need to be watered, my flowers need to be replaced (they are looking very sad right now), my bed needs to be made, so does this apple crumble… and so, it is suddenly feeling like the optimal time to get into a new blog post. I’m usually at work in the flower shop right now but I’ve taken a few days off to do some COVID symptom monitoring from home.
Public health recommendations aside, I’ve been spending a lot of nights in lately, working on my paintings, working on myself and it’s been a healing time for me. I debated pushing myself to socialize some more this month, but I’m honestly glad that I just listened to my intuition and took it easy. I’ve also been feeling surprisingly patient recently, with myself and others, maybe out of necessity, but I can’t help but feel like what is the rush? Everything has its season; everything will happen in its time.
Speaking of seasons, it is currently Red season ((Taylor’s version) of course). Taylor Swift’s Speak Now concert was actually the first concert I ever went to, which is very characteristic for my age demographic. When I was first learning to sing and play the piano, there were definitely quite a few Taylor cover’s that I searched up on UltimateGuitar.com. I still know all the lyrics to Back to December after practicing those verses over and over. But I can’t say that I’ve kept up with all of her music beyond those early days. And not in a “I’m too cool for Taylor Swift” kind of way, because I am so definitely not, just now that she seems to be trending it would be dishonest for me to be like “that’s my girl”. I mean I’ve watched her documentary and the Folklore special thing she put out, but that’s only because I had roommates and friends that felt it was important that I enlighten myself.
Like the good media consumer that I am, I have been listening to Taylor’s new rereleased Red album, and when I’m not listening to the songs in their entirety, I’m hearing clip after clip on Tiktok. Lip syncs and music video breakdowns and argumentative essays and Jake Gyllenhaal slander. Swifttok has taken over my “for you” page at this point. And I kind of love it. Taylor’s album Red is about her experiences as a 22-year-old. While I’m sure that my 12-year-old self was feeling those lyrics and hating men who may one day hurt me when it was originally released, it was not nearly as relatable and reflective for me as it is now.
I have been seeing lots of parallels between Taylor’s mindset and my own, as do most people my age on the internet it seems, but more than that, these last few days I have been relating to Taylor Swift as an artist.
I’ve been keeping all my most recent paintings very private because I’m working towards an exhibition and I want to have a lot of material that’s never been seen before but I’m going to share the painting I just finished titled “Close to you” so that I can properly explain what I mean, since it’s very different from my previous subject matter. In proper Taylor Swift fashion, I’m going to expose myself a bit here while also maintaining a degree of privacy, so like don’t ask me who this is about that’s disrespectful, but if you know you know.
("Close to you", 36" x 48", acrylic on canvas)
You know I went through the internalized misogyny of my early teens that makes you believe Taylor Swift is crazy. And I have come to the other side. I love women and I am psychotic. :) And game recognizes game. I am in my Taylor Swift era and those who get it will get it and those who don’t can cast their judgement as I continue to use my art to illustrate my emotional experiences. So, what about my paintings right now makes me feel creatively compatible with Taylor?
- Vivid imagery
So, one of Taylor’s biggest themes in her song writing is the story telling aspect and the scene setting that she does. She understood the assignment when the English teacher told her to paint a picture with all the five senses. And while you might be thinking like Katie, you’re telling me you're like Taylor Swift because your paintings are visual?? Like you’re a visual artist? But like I get that, but my paintings have never been as scenic or narrative as they are recently. In the painting “Close to you”, it is still figurative just like a lot of my previous work, but they are figures in a context. I wanted it to be like a still frame from a movie. The subjects aren’t just subjects, they’re like characters. They have expression and thoughts and it isn’t a pose, it’s a moment in time. A lot of my recent paintings have been really closely linked to these emotionally charged memories and with this painting I look at it and I am there. With Taylor’s songs, so many people love to listen because they hear the lyrics and they paint such a clear picture that you feel like in that moment you are a 22 year old heartbroken girl, and if you are already that then maybe you even feel like wait am I Taylor Swift?!
- Emotional expression
Taylor Swift is probably best known for writing break up songs about her exes. Even if you knew none of her songs, you would know that about her if you’re not living under a rock. When she is hurting and needs to process her emotions, she writes them out in a beautiful way, and she shares them. I’ve spoken in a few different blog entries about how I have felt the desire to be seen and heard and understood, to make art with meaning and I can finally say that I am doing that. I am taking emotions and I am depicting them for others to eventually see. And I can’t wait for that day. I can only imagine how fulfilled I will feel when I get the share all the stuff I’ve been working on with others and have people understand the emotional experiences that are hard to articulate. The feelings that you won’t know unless you really crank up your empathy. Emotionally charged music, paintings, dance, any art is like a tool to heighten empathy. Making personally expressive art is like swapping out your laces for Velcro, people still need to want to step into your shoes, but it’s that much easier to do. And you know I journal and that helps, but it is the artist in me that needs more and wants to be seen and I think Taylor Swift feels the same. With my painting “Close to you” I am drawing from my own experiences to depict those relatable feelings of insecurity, a desire for connection, the discomfort of being kept at an arm’s length or on the other side of someone’s walls.
- Details, details, details
One of the internet’s favourite things about Taylor Swifts artistic outputs is that there are layers to them. Taylor intentionally includes so many easter eggs and inside jokes and common themes for her fans to find. Everything is done with intention and attention to detail that might be what intimidates most and makes people label her a crazy bitch. I can’t even imagine the amount of personalized touches she’s added that the general public hasn’t caught, that only close friends recognize and think “oh my god no she didn’t” and even beyond that the word choices that maybe no one outside of herself and the person she’s writing about will ever know to be significant. Because a lot of recent paintings have been created out of a sort of necessity, needing to get these reoccurring visuals out of my head or express a feeling so I don’t need to ruminate on it any longer, I’ve had to get it just right to capture the moment/feeling. I fixate on it in a way that makes me sure I’m a crazy bitch. I really do be forgetting that I am a Scorpio sometimes. (Taylor is a Sagittarius, but she has a Cancer moon so, same difference). While in the past, a lot of my artistic choices were unintentional, even accidental, if you were to ask me why something is a certain way in one of my paintings, and I tell you there’s no significance, I’m probably lying and it’s just too personal to share. The scenes I’ve been aiming to recreate come together a bit like dreams, where certain details stand out, but time and space don’t quite make sense. Like when you know you’re at your school, but it looks like your childhood home and you know you’re 10 years old, but you look like your current self. For example, in “Close to you” I am capturing a feeling. A feeling of a place, a person and an emotional experience rather than a simple moment in time. It reminds me of a few moments in time. The loose fitted sheet, the jeans in bed, the way she’s hugging herself, the one foot maintaining physical contact the pinky purple lighting on her and the yellow lighting on him, they all are significant details to me for reasons only I will know but needed to include for myself. Additionally, creating paintings for the first time for my series “Parallel”, like songs for an album, has allowed me to include common colours and symbols like parallel lines across all of my pieces, similar to Taylor’s use of the colour Red throughout the music videos and performances and outfits and makeup of her original Red and rereleased Red (Taylor’s Version) eras.
Maybe there’s even more creative influence and impulse in common than I know with my limited Taylor Swift insight, but it’s enough to make me feel reaffirmed in the art I am creating –that it will be fulfilling for me, can be inspiring for others and is a valid use of my time and output into the world. It’s also my understanding that Taylor is quite the baker so maybe that’s my queue to go make that apple crumble.