Blog / 2022 / Live Painting for My Life

January 28, 2022

[video transcript]

The Everything’s Fine online gallery is up and running! I plan on having all twenty or so paintings from the series done by midsummer so that I can do the postcard and poster distribution in the fall. Contact me or sign up for my mailing list if you want to know more about the project.

The original painting featured in this video is for sale for $1500 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks—and there are prints and pretty things with the image here in my print shop.

figure with a multi-colored column of traffic lights for a head
Gwenn Seemel
Yearn Signal
acrylic on panel
20 x 10 inches

Have you ever been in a rut so big that doing the one thing you said you’d never do suddenly seemed like the only way out? Because I can now officially say now that I have, and, luckily, doing the scary thing worked.

In the last three months of 2021, every Monday and Thursday, I painted live for anyone who wanted to watch. This is the uncropped footage to give you an idea of the full Twitch livestream experience, but at this point it’s really the painting that’s more interesting.

My perfectionism never got used to broadcasting my raw process. Plus I was painting about my mental health issues, so the whole thing was that much more vulnerable.

Over the course of twelve weeks, I logged around thirty hours of broadcast, and in that time I managed to finish four paintings while also getting a good start on four others. I did some work offline—especially the last few layers of the paintings I finished—but all in all I was surprised to learn just how true that old adage is. Inspiration is overrated. Showing up in the studio can get you quite far.

While painting publicly still isn’t my favorite way to create, I also figured out pretty quickly that it’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it was. Mainly, when I paint by myself, I’m present in a different way than when I have an audience, but that difference isn’t necessarily a negative. Sometimes chatting with people while I painted distracted me just enough so that I could get out of my own way. The many of psychological threads that run through this project—both the paintings and the broadcasts—are difficult to untangle.

For example, at the beginning of the livestreams, my goal was to make space for people to share about their own mental health journey and find community. But at some point I realized that I didn’t need to emphasize mental health in our chats. Making space for art in people’s lives was automatically making space for mental health. It made me love art that much more.

That said, the whole project has also made me feel crazier than I have in years. Some of that is the timing. I mean, I started the series and the broadcast because I was in crisis already. But some of it is that, when you really take a good look at your own behavior—and your own brain—it’s hard not to feel at least a little more broken. I think it’s because the cracks feel bigger when you’re poking at them.

Still, this project has helped me to avoid a total break down, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I was headed last fall. The pressure of entering COVID Year 3 while still dealing with the same Before Times pressures that existed pre-pandemic just got to be too much.

Now, a few months into Everything’s Fine—that’s what I’m calling this series—I’m excited to say I’ve finally figured out what I want to do with Everything’s Fine. Over the next little bit, I’ll continue to create new paintings, and the project will eventually become postcards and posters that will be distributed for free via schools, public libraries, and mental health clinics. Sign up for my mailing list or contact me if you want to be involved in the evolution of Everything’s Fine as well as in the decisions about where the posters and postcards will be distributed.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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