By Mason Gehring
Generally, my creative process is a solo mission and I like it that way. I never played team sports as a kid and I’m very much your typical introvert (INFJ) where I find it a relief to be away from people when I’ve had too many consecutive days with the public. I have no longing for people, it’s always a small thrill to be alone. When I’m creating I need to be able to do all of the things and nothing for about three to four hours to feel like I am able to be my “authentic” self so I can accomplish something.
However, over the years I have learned that my work will not grow and I will not develop if I’m not showing my work to other people who I trust and value their opinion on where all of this is going. I’ve created this short list of people who I will engage in conversation about a new piece and seek their input. I take their words to heart on everything from subject matter, colors, composition, treatment, even how I’m packaging pieces to ship (my weakest link).
So I’m mostly alone and I create as a cathartic process to my existence and have the understanding that when I share my story it may help someone else understand something in themselves or the world around them. But there are many moments where I very much doubt my connection to people through my artwork. I think, “who needs to see this” and I have no idea. When I think of where my work belongs, I imagine a large gallery with lots of light. And when I imagine who buys my work, I draw a blank. I have patrons but, many of them are friends and family so understanding who loves my work is a little biased with people who care about me. This doubt will never stop me from creating because I have no choice but to paint but, it does make me stall out on figuring out how to sell all of these things. It’s too overwhelming figuring that out.
There are moments that reassure my doubts. It’s when someone random reaches out to share something very personal about their life that resonated with my work or writing. I kinda want to cry a little bit from joy and then I take a deep breath and think, ok let’s just keep going, this IS going to work out. A few years ago I thought about not doing self portraits as much and that maybe it looked self indulgent, and do people really want my face in their home? And then a woman was looking at a self portrait of mine and she just made a gasp sort of noise and said, “Yes… this one… keep doing this!” I was shocked because my assumptions of this woman who I didn’t know very well was that this would not be anything she would enjoy. It’s too weird, too dark, too raw and exposed and I was very much wrong. And so I kept going. If I can move this woman, who I assumed would be weirded out by my work, then there’s a lot more people that can connect and benefit from my expression.
Above and below: Images of my older work, The Deconstructed Self-Portrait Series
For more information please go to my website – MasonGehring.com
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