February 2024

"The Observer"

Mixed media on canvas; 29 x 29cm; 2023

A colorful reminder about the importance of observing our thoughts, instead of judging them, latching on to them and allowing them to define our actions.

This piece initially started off as a very different idea (called "The Judge"), but the direction changed as the idea developed. 

Read the full story below! ⬇

The inspiration and story behind the art

How it started 

In July 2022 I was reading a lot of books about shame and judgement. Through mindfulness practices and meditation, I had become aware of how often I judged myself and how strong my internal critic was, judging every thought, action word and everything about myself in general.  

I thought it might be useful to give this judge a form, and depict what they look like. The sketch above is the first concept behind the painting I intended to name "The Judge" - judging everything as either good or bad.

Experimenting with form and texture

I had the perfect square canvas so I wanted to make the balloons pop, and wrap around the canvas's  thick edges too. 

To make the balloons, I used an airy and light modelling paste and a custom stencil. I started by placing a few balloons directly on the canvas, but then decided that it would be better to create them on a silicone baking sheet if I wanted to layer them on top of each other on the canvas. 

The process & which materials I used

Time for colors - or not... 

I knew I wanted the balloons to be rainbow colored and I also wanted to make each individual balloon look 3D. I initially applied paint right after they dried, but I wasn´t  happy with the uneven edges. So, I decided to smooth them all down with some sand paper, and redo the painting process. 

Observe the rainbow

The process of painting the balloons (twice, due to the sanding process in between) took up a lot of my time but the end result was so satisfying to look at. Lined up in neat rows, the balloons reminded me of colorful pieces of candy. 

"The Judge" becomes "The Observer"

"The Judge", digitally captured

Mid-process I decided to try my initial idea on the canvas, so I recreated it in MS Paint (which is what I usually use for digital concepts 😅).

I was reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and a quote really stuck with me: "There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it."

& so I decided to change the concept from The Judge to The Observer.

"The Observer"

To contrast the black depiction of The Judge, I chose white to depict the form of the Observer, making her a she, in a relaxed pose, observing the floating thought balloons above. 

The form of the Observer is also not fully glued onto the canvas, but can be removed from the background. 

This can be interpreted in multiple ways, here are some of my thoughts: 
- the ability of observing one's thoughts depends on how present we are in the moment, how grounded and how mindful. I continue to struggle with grounding myself enough to not allow my thoughts to overwhelm me. Some days, it is harder than others - but this is all part of the journey. 

We are all the Observer

The other reason of why the figure of the observer is not glued firmly is that I also really like the painting without it.

In this interpretation, the true observer of the floating balloons is the one observing the painting. 

We are reminded of the importance of observing our thoughts, instead of judging them, latching on to them and allowing them to define our actions.

The audience is the observer and the art is a vessel for mindfulness. 

"The Observer" is available for purchase. Please contact me directly for more information.