My January was nothing short of busy and jam packed. The last of my holiday orders had been sent out, the mural projects in Puerto Rico were completed, I applied for a fellowship, had 4 meetings with my grant mentor, and co-hosted a networking event. There was also the GIANT task of completing my first piece for the Emerging Artist’s show. No biggie.
Damn near every hour of each day in the month were calculated to fit in all of my commitments. It was an exhausting month, and not the smartest way to go into 2022, but I made it. I even finished my piece on time, which is a miracle seeing as how I am forever pushing my own deadlines back.
Because of the space that will be provided to us for the Emerging Artist’s show I decided on 36×36 canvases for my new pieces. I haven’t painted on a canvas this large in over 10 years. While the size seemed intimidating at first, half way through I asked myself why I hadn’t been painting larger all this time. A big part of my applying for this grant was to gain insight on where my new body of work should draw inspiration from and how to make it cohesive. I am so thankful for the pairing of my mentor, Chad Mize, who’s helped me think about my portfolio and style as a whole instead of just one piece at a time. I started this first canvas with the next couple in mind.
Choosing the color palette and series of stories I wanted to tell was most important for me. I almost always begin a piece with a digital sketch that I then reproduce onto a yellow canvas with burnt sienna. I locked myself away for two consecutive weekends in the studio. It felt so good to just paint. It really shouldn’t be so hard for me to sit down in my studio and paint. I tend to overcommit myself to projects and I couldn’t be more grateful for this grant period forcing me to solely work on my portfolio.
The hardest part of finishing a piece is knowing when to step away. With my new body of work I really want to learn to let go and let be when it’s in its different stages. I must’ve reworked the textured areas of the painting at least 3xs until I remembered I should be learning when to stop. Overall, I was happy with the final result. Once the light reflected off the first layer of gloss I knew I had stopped in the right place. While I can look back at every piece of work I’ve ever painted and feel anxiety for the things I long to fix, I still have excitement for them.
Hours after finishing I jumped on Instagram Live to talk about the piece and others from the Puerto Rican diaspora came into the room. Connecting the diaspora to our home, our culture, and making our stories seen are the end goals for me. I received good feedback and felt that I had accomplished that goal even with the few people I was able to interact with. I hope that all my pieces for the Emerging Artist’s grant invoke those same collective feelings.
You can check out this work in progress on my Instagram: Sketzii