La donna mascherata

La donna mascherata

A new piece (or, drainting! A drawing and a painting) for exhibiting, hopefully, if KILN still want me to participate in the Illustrators show coming up soon! I usually know I’m on the right track if a new piece scares the crap out of me, and this lady sure scared me on several occasions! Despite studying art at university, lots of fine art skills escape me and I usually feel quite incompetent beside other artists because I am mostly self taught. Her skin colour really worried me for a while, but I just ended up layering the colour a bit, and it came good. Horah!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we hide ourselves in public, to become normal or to blend in. From my early teens I wore make up religiously because I had terrible acne, and it got to a point where I couldn’t answer the door without having a full face on. These days, while I love my cosmetics, I’m a bit more relaxed about “putting on my mask” but you’ll never catch me in a social situation without being fully made up and dressed ridiculously. Because, you know, people might find out… that I have… flaws!

Externals aside, I’ve also had a lot of practice at covering up my various idiosyncrasies. It’s easy for me to say I have experience with depression, suicide and anxiety but harder for me to go in to details because I am so used to people trivialising my fears. Mostly, I’m scared of phones and of falling over in public when I’m out by myself. And because of those fears I come off as quite aloof (I’m pretty hard to catch on the phone!) and I only ever go out when I’ve got someone with me, so in the case I fall over I’ve got someone to laugh about it with me! I mask a lot of my anxieties with a huge laugh and a big personality but lately I’ve been feeling quite guilty about it. This work is one of my ways of coming out as hiding.

So there, that’s my story about being a masked woman. What masks do you wear?


  1. That sounds so familiair, you have no idea. All of it. But after years of trying to perfect myself as an artist and person I can tell you a few wisdoms.
    You are a fantastic person. If the rest doesn’t see that… tough luck. Hide behind your big personality all you like because other people love big personalities but are too scared to become one themselves! Your art is great and you do not need to feel ashamed of it, rather the opposite. Trust your own instincts with art and let the idiots be cantankerous and boring because they live by a set of unseen rules that is supposed to make them better but stifles them instead. Agree with you on the phone thing. Mean it about the art. And about going out… I have solved it. You are an artist so you are supposed to be outrageous. The more flaws you have the more reasons for you to be an artist. So I have highlighted all my flaws with very visible tattoos. Now they really have something to talk about when they see me.
    This is advice from one artist to another, but this one has already been there and done that…

  2. Without turning this into ‘Phoneaphobics Anonymous’, just thought you might get a laugh when I tell you that I manage a call centre but my heart starts racing every time my home phone or mobile rings.

    One of my favourite sayings: Why be normal when you can be yourself?

  3. You know already that I love this piece (she’s so sexy!) but now that I know some more about the background in it, it’s even more fascinating.

    My mask used to be submissive. I’m sorry. It’s my fault. You’re right. That was my whole schtick. And I was miserable, plus I couldn’t make everyone happy. So I hide no more!

    I still prefer to go out with makeup on though. Don’t HAVE to, but I prefer to.

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