Feelings Made Visible

Finding representation in Nature

Perhaps as a very sensitive introvert with a deep desire to not be seen growing up our human mask or shield is something that’s always fascinated me. This impenetrable facade is something that’s either always present in my work or the effort to see behind the mask is what my paintings strive to explore but in different ways. I’ve always been fascinated by what feelings and thoughts humans choose to hide or share. I started thinking of our faces as a facade that conceals any number of goings on behind it. How interesting would it be if that was beyond our control (scary perhaps!).

These works came from the thought What if our emotions or thoughts were visible to everyone? What would represent those expressions in nature? It could be floral or animal.

A stern woman that hides her passion represented by wild roses that bloom behind her. This was my first piece exploring this idea. The shadows / silhouettes leaves and flowers along with the delicate pencil drawn roses speaks to her insecurity at expressing this side of herself. Her heart is bright red because it is full and guides her through the fear on following her bliss.

Wild Roses, 2013

Acrylic, graphite on wood panel

24″ x 18″


Mourning doves showing the sadness this still woman conceals. Her heart is fragile. The still bird speak to the weight and the flying doves represent the chaos of all the feelings that come with loss and the unknown.

Mourning Doves, 2013

Acrylic, graphite on wood panel

24″ x 18″


A few years later I revisited this idea. This time I explored how sometimes we are not aware how our words can be seen by others.

In this piece fear and worry are represented by moths.

All She Talked About Was Her Fears, 2014

Watercolor on watercolor paper

17″ x 13″


In this piece bugs, beetles represent the mean talk coming from this woman’s words.

Her Words Are Always Mean, 2014

Watercolor on watercolor paper

17″ x 13″


Banal objects to convey feelings in contemporary art

Contemporary female artists like Andrea Bowers, Arghavaan Khosravi use objects in art to tell hard truth without having to illustrated it directly. The object is infused with a message, a meaning that helps convey more subtly a story or reality. Using a replacement to replace the human figure can give the viewer a filter to ease into the work. In my paintings

I chose to use a doll’s head to explore a moment in childhood in one artwork and a parenting struggle in the other.

As a contemporary female artist I explore the tension I felt in motherhood in my work “False Role Model2017. Barbie became a representation of “super mom”. As we learn more about child-rearing the “what sort of parenting do you do?” is a common question and judgement. With the rise of social media the pressures on mothers is exacerbated by Pinterest boards of busy moms running multiple figure businesses, dressed impeccably, making healthy nutritious meals for the family and living in immaculate homes. Barbie represents this false image we as women hold up to ourselves as a standard to live up to. It’s an impossible role model that breeds unhappiness, frustration and can lead to depression.

Barbie is Not a Mother” 2017 Oil on wood panel 36″ by 36″ (91.5 cm by 91.5 cm)

It’s an impossible standard to live up to.

In this painting the table shows the beginning of meal prep and children’s toys. The never ending daily tasks (cooking, cleaning etc) that create a constant chaos both visually and mentally. They also represent the basic needs (feeding our kids) as well as the joys we hope to create (a child playing is imagined through these objects). Among the beets can be found a human heart representing how we give so much of ourselves as mothers. The fence represents the tension between the deep need to keep our kids safe and the caged feeling of so much responsibility. As the Barbie head (aka “perfect mother”) is removed one can see that the figure is not defined and almost missing. This painting was a monumental shift in my perception of motherhood. When I put aside the pressures I felt as a mom (the tug of war between all the responsibilities, my hopes and gnawing self doubts) the biggest issue wasn’t my grappling with time management but that I didn’t even know who I was without the label of “Mother”. I had found myself missing from my own life.

Detail, “False Role Model2017 Oil on wood panel 36″ by 36″ (91.5 cm by 91.5 cm)

contemporary artist childhood memory

As a highly sensitive child moving to a new country at the age of three and only speaking Czech at home school was always a struggle. If I think back to my childhood I can’t say I remember much. I think this is because I spent so much time trying not to feel things. As a contemporary female artist expressing these uncomfortable moments is what my body of work is about. In this case I chose my childhood doll to represent this desire to hide. The head representing the facade a child creates is clear. The body (feelings) that they don’t want to feel in abstract and only suggested creating a disconnect between the head and body. In the background is a playground only hinted at creating a murky landscape.

Playground Memories“, 2017 Oil on stretched canvas

16″ by 16″

Where am I in “motherhood”?

Many artists’ journeys follow this classic tale: They “know” from an early age that they want to be an artist. They draw as kids, they are encouraged by a high school art teacher or someone they respect. It’s what they’ve always enjoyed. And then years later (like 30 for me!!!) they finally step into their creative passion and have the confidence to call themselves artists.

What is really fascinating about these journeys is how life has a way to gently guide us to our fulfilled lives through our greatest challenges.

False Role Model” 2017 Oil on wood panel 36″ by 36″ (91.5 cm by 91.5 cm)

In 2011 I became a mother for the first time. The year my son was born I did the most craft fairs I had even done. These shows were a way for me to see if my work was appreciated and to become part of the art world. It was a big, fulfilling year! It was a personal success and financial failure (which caused years of questioning).

And then…motherhood.

An intense inner pull to selflessness that the bond with a child brings. I did what I had to do. Living in a state of suspended ‘now’ (perhaps similar to Covid times…). As I tried to figure out my career I felt all the frustration of not having ‘my time’. With my husband’s support I decided to go back to school and do a BFA. I was a mature student in my 40s surrounded by 20 year olds. I had nothing to fear but being dishonest with myself. It was the perfect setting for me. It’s the safe container I needed to come out of myself.

It all started with a painting (the one above). At first my journey into motherhood felt like I was mourning the loss of my alone time. My time had become the family’s, my son’s. But through this painting and subsequent others I quickly came to realize that I hadn’t lost “my” time but that I had in fact no idea of who I was.

I had found myself missing from my own life.

I had lived from the role of ‘daughter’ to ‘student’ to ‘girlfriend’ to ‘partner’ to ‘mother’ and then to ‘home maker’. Trying to live up to my upbringing and perhaps society’s image (Hello Pinterest 🙂). I had preconceived ideas of who I was suppose to be (that I wasn’t even aware of!?!). I struggled to ignore my individuality and resign myself to trying to perform those roles well. Through art I was allowing my own truth to speak. The lost part of me that felt it didn’t have a place in this new world of motherhood started to emerge.

Through a series of paintings I came to understand that motherhood was a relationship I had to work on not only in connection to others but to myself. You can see the full (to date) Finding Yourself Missing collection HERE.

My creed

I came across this wonderful exercise. Write down what you believe. In a world constantly bombarding us with “Shoulds” and “Coulds” this is a freeing exercise that puts front and center my beliefs and grounds me a truth that is stronger then my constant quest for learning something new to help be cover up my feels of “not good enough”. (OK there’s a few journaling prompts right there!)

Obviously figuring out what one believes is a continuous soul-searching activity. It will probably change as I do. At first it’s scary to name those beliefs but once you’ve made a list it’s easy to feel which ones are true for you. They give you power to soar and a firm grounding to stand on.

Here is what I know to be true (for now).

What do you believe? I highly recommend asking yourself and sitting with what you come up with 🙂 And then turning it into a nice graphically satisfying poster also feels good.