LATELY I’ve been considering an assignment in art class years ago. We were told to copy a famous drawing and then repaint it with different colours. The aim was to reveal that colours can convey different meanings behind the work.
The project fascinated me. I was halfway through slopping on the colours before anyone had finished drawing their works.
I chose the brightest colours for my Mona Lisa.
Her hair was red.
Her skin was purple.
The sky was green.
My teacher gave me a passable mark, and then gave one of the other students a higher mark. He’d been expelled and hadn’t even finished the drawing. When I expressed outrage, she accused me of rushing through the picture as fast as I could.
She accused me of being lazy.
That’s sort of true.
But lately I seem to be better at expressing myself through images rather than through the written word. And I was better at writing than by speaking.
I spent a lot of time using my phone to do it.
Perceptions of identity for one body interests me. It’s why I love clothes. It’s why I love selfies. I’m becoming more experimental with Instagram and a new app, called Prisma. I enjoy the editing and the cheap easy filtering and photo shopping, because maybe it’s the closest way I can escape my body. I can be somebody else by looking like something else.
It’s about making something into more than what it really is. Perhaps a caricature.
I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing when writing about my childhood so far. I’m editing it, colouring it, giving it tinted and exaggerated shades because it makes it more exciting.
I’m not lying. Not at all. I’m redrawing the past. I’m painting it with fresh colours of jokes and tongue-in-cheek observation, and adult experience, and sadness. I haven’t been giving you the original product.
And maybe that’s a good thing.
This still feels honest. It still means something.
It’s just a new and different way of seeing what it is.
This is what I am. Maybe a little more exposed, maybe at an unusual angle, but I just want to show you the difference.