After some good chats with loved ones and having been given a 24 hour ban on Instagram last week, it has made me rethink how I go about sharing online. I noticed in the past few days while I've been writing this that other people have shared similar thoughts as well which is so beautiful as it really goes to show how connected we all are. My goal with sharing things publicly has always been part of my belief that honesty and vulnerability with other humans is a way to break down the illusion of separation that a lot of people feel between other beings on this earth. By expressing my vulnerability, whether through my paintings, words or body, I have hoped to inspire in people a sense of interconnectedness and empathy, that we are all in this together, that we are all flawed, beautiful human beings. I find such healing in sharing with other humans in this way. It helps me to grow in my self and connect with kindred souls. However, I find it difficult sometimes in keeping this sense of honesty when I am also trying to build a business through my painting and modeling. I feel that the sacred nature of the female body gets distorted and lost sometimes when the majority of followers I have are men who only see through eyes of lust. Sometimes the nature of the work is of a sensual or erotic nature, so obviously it will be viewed as such. But I am coming from a place of love, and I am an advocate for sex and body positivity where it is used to empower and uplift, to liberate and heal, not to objectify. I choose to bare my body for art, to create stories through my gaze, to paint pictures with the shapes of my body in a landscape. Sometimes I get so fearful of how it is all received by other people but then I remind myself how that doesn't really matter. At the core of all of what I do, I do it because of the need and drive to create art out of every aspect of my life.
I started my journey with nude modeling mid last year after years of wanting to do it but not letting myself for fear of hurting someone I loved. This was right at the same time that I was in full power mode with my art, applying to every festival and doof I could. I want to explain where I have come from to explain how epic this was for me.. I isolated myself for pretty much my entire teenage years and 4 years past that. I hardly went out or had many friends. I was a total hermit asides from one or two select people, and I squandered my own essence to help someone else that I loved for many years. But that isn't my story to tell in full. I made a lot of mistakes last year in the process of healing myself. I jumped in the deep end (as always) and learnt to swim as I went. I hurt one of the closest people to me multiple times because of my own selfishness. I was so incredibly ungrounded and ended up completely burning myself out. This past year I really understood the concept that even those with the best intentions will make epic mistakes sometimes. We are all human. No one is perfect. Sometimes you will be the toxic one. Learn from it. Say sorry. Forgive yourself. Do it with love. And have gratitude.
I remember one day I was out somewhere getting lunch and some random person walked past and was like "Zoe, I love your art!" I had no idea who they were and couldn't really explain in any way how astounded I was that this human that I didn't know recognised me on the street and had appreciated my art. Me who spends most of my time alone painting. All of a sudden I had a heap of people coming up to me all the time at doofs to talk to me about my art or modeling, and every single person who had ever done that probably has no idea how incredible that is to me, and how much I appreciate it. It is astounding to me. I'm in a state where I am overwhelmed by it as it was so foreign to me for so long. I don't know so many of the people that have added me as a friend on facebook or followed me on instagram or spoken to me at doofs. I couldn't possibly know you all. I get overwhelmed with people sometimes, but at the core of my being I am filled with so much gratitude and only wish I could express that in it's entirety. Sometimes I am so anxious in my own mind that I can't even handle being in the same room as other people. I need silence and my own thoughts. I get in mindsets for weeks sometimes where I feel like everything that comes out of my mouth isn't right and I have to isolate myself for my own health. I feel like I have entire universes of love inside me but human beings are exhausting and I am so sensitive.
I get people asking me things quite often like how did I learn to paint or how do I get so much detail in my paintings.. I think the ultimate answer is that I spend hours painting 4 or 5 days a week, I spend at least 2-4 months on a single painting and I very rarely have any friends over to my house. I sacrifice sunny days adventuring, stable income, hanging with loved ones and being fit and toned quite often for my love of painting. I do it willingly, but that's the truth of it. I want my life to be honest online, not some highlight reel of moments that make anyone doubt the beauty of their own life. I want to explain that sometimes I will post a picture of a flower with some meaningful quote when I'm actually lying in bed depressed and unmotivated to move. I will post pictures of myself nude on a photo shoot when in reality that day I couldn't stand to look in the mirror and have only done one nude shoot since October because I have endometriosis and am sometimes bloated and sore for up to 3 weeks of a month. I'm a big believer that all our physical ailments and illnesses are a manifestation of areas of our energetic body that need work. I realised that over the years I blocked out the emotion of anger and replaced it with sadness, as I grew up in a situation where I was forced to become more mature than my physical age. I blocked out anger because I thought I was above that emotion, and in doing so I never came to completely accept myself. I've been working on accepting my anger in a healthy way by coming to the root of the issue. It's a slow path, but it's so worth it. Growth is always so hard, but like becoming a painter, it takes practice, determination and sacrifice. I would never choose another path. This one has the most flowers along the way :)
The internet can be such an amazing gift that connects humans from all over the world. It's a double edged sword that I both adore and disdain as I rely so heavily on this strange virtual world to share my art and build my business. I have connected with the most beautiful humans, traveled over the world to see friends I met online and have gotten so much inspiration from being able to view other peoples work and lives that I would never have found any other way. However, it can work to distort lives and create more separation between us all because so many of us get stuck in the trap of comparing and living vicariously through other's lives, while simultaneously letting the doom and gloom of the collective unconscious weigh us down and make us react in fear and anger. Let me tell you a secret.. your life is so beautiful. If you truly feel it isn't and you feel that something is missing, know that nothing lasts forever and you have the power in you to change. You may not be able to today, or even in 5 years, but the power is still in you. I promise you that the whole universe is conspiring to help you in any way it can.
I'm literally just a tiny human filled with love who is eternally grateful for all this magic. My wish is to continue being able to share with vulnerability and honesty and to manifest a brighter world through art. I'm sending you so much love through the screen. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(image credit: Eliza Kinchington)