As a child growing up, I was introduced to Trinidad Carnival, the festival of music, dancing and colourful masquerade. I found the annual event to be very fascinating and exciting; except for one aspect that scared the daylights out of me and one I dreaded having to endure.
Tradition has it that on the early Monday morning of Carnival (known as Jouvert) these “devils” would prowl the streets looking for homes to enter. Some were painted in blue or black wearing horns on their heads, old shorts with long tails at the back, holding pitchforks and blowing whistles while others made music by banging on large silver coloured biscuit tins. Imagine the thought of an impressionable little child seeing them.
Quite intense, isn’t it?
Once they came into your yard they would do their eerie dance and their facial expressions and gestures caused me to hide behind my grandmother for fear of them reaching me, but I remember still peeping out from my position behind her to look at them but feeling some level of protection.
Fast-forward to adulthood and my present, where I have acted on my decision to take the plunge of living my dream as an artist with no “safety net” or anything that can act as that comforting reassurance that I felt behind my grandmother.
Instead, it's me having to believe in myself and trust in my abilities and deal with my fears and insecurities, setbacks, challenges, failings along with the eureka moments! We all have those moments.
Deep within, I know that throughout my life I have always wanted to be financially secure. It is my achilles heel and here I am leaving a secure job due to “unforeseen circumstances” and taking a chance on me! For those who know me well you know that for practical Paulette this is going totally rogue!
So here I am in the early stages of my art career and focusing on painting aspects of carnival that I like and when I shared with colleagues what I was going to paint- (the Traditional mas characters) what do you think was the one character that I was being encouraged to do?
Omg! yep – you got it …the blue devils! Well! Needless to say it freaked me out! I remember sitting at my work table and I was looking at the Pierrot Grenade characters that I had already completed and quite frankly knowing what else I had on my list to paint for this series and there I was suddenly saying to myself “well Paulette it is time to face those fears!”
Yep there were many “monsters, devils” that were locked away or so I thought but of course, they kept rearing their ugly heads at different times eating away at my self-worth,
I closed my eyes and I said with determination “this is my time for freedom!”
I did some research began to make sketches in my own style and began painting. It will not be truthful if I said that while I looked at portrayals of these characters I was fine,
there was a bit of those feelings from childhood and uncomfortable and questioning feelings especially as this topic also tugged at my spiritual beliefs…seriously there was a struggle! But struggles make us stronger when we overcome them.
My word! What healing came! When I get lost in making art it is as if all the worries in the world get sucked into this huge vacuum and I am set free! As I painted these devils I realized the tables were turned..
I was now the creator.
Now as I reflect, perhaps there was a subconscious reason why I chose to do these pieces as miniature four inches by four inches in size. It was as if I was saying that those fears were greatly reduced at this point in my life and I realized I had the power as to what will control me if I gave power to it!
Those devils represented sadness, darkness, anxiety, great fears and negativity… by painting them as miniatures, it made me realize that I was no longer a child carrying around fears that crippled me, but that I had grown not just physically but emotionally..
I had conquered!
What a realization! It was ok to congratulate myself and see positive things about me.. I was okay and I had to affirm that it was a very good thing to give myself a pat on the back!
As I painted I remember smiling and actually feeling quite happy and excited and mischievous and cheeky all at the same time as names for each painting also came to mind! One such name was Devilishus!
Omg what a turnaround! There was absolutely no inkling of fear! Not one bit! Instead I was delighting in my characters because that is what they were …I was creating a story and I can create whatever I wanted!
These are the kinds of experiences that happen when I am painting. It goes really deep and by the time I’m finished, something that needed to be shed drops away or something that needed to be sorted out just is, as I just become fully absorbed in creating.
It is a conversation with God but without words and a conversation with my deeper self, it is a meditation not to be disturbed and my soul is at its freest.
I hope this story helps you on your own journey. To find the inner strength to turn your fears into your opportunities. To face those monsters in your life.