elchocolate

El Chocolate” Oil on wood panel, 2016. By Traci L. Turner.

In a previous post I talked a bit about the human hearts that I started painting. I think that I’m going to zero in on that and continue to paint different hearts, with varying color combinations and other elements. With the heart painting above, I think I began to veer off in a direction that had more of a message or significance to me than the others so far. So much so, that I became attached to it – which is really rare for me when it comes to a piece of my own work. So I decided to keep it for myself. It just felt like “my” painting.

I swear the concept for this piece has been in development off and on for at least 2 or 3 years. Some time ago I was so inspired by strong romantic feelings for someone in my life, that I wanted to make a painting that described what was swirling around within me. As wonderful as it all looked and felt, I was stumped because there really isn’t any one way to describe falling in love with a person. What can be said or shown for it that we haven’t heard or seen before? After a while I figured that it was a lost cause. I was trying to condense a concept that is abstract, and yet so specific, into a single image. It was a lot harder than I originally anticipated, so I shelved it for a while. As I became more comfortable with opening up about matters of the heart in my work, it seemed time to revisit the concept for this painting about what it’s like for me to fall for someone.

Even though the situation that inspired my desire to create the painting ended up dissipating, I was still very interested in describing the feeling that I had. It felt natural to me to use a food reference in the piece because something about the joy of consuming a meal reminds me of what it’s like to be so excited about a new love that you want to consume everything about the person. Any amount of time you have together never seems like enough. Every new thing you learn about them is so interesting that it makes you want to unlock even more information, no matter how mundane or unoriginal it is. You can always make room for one more glance, an extra caress, or another chance to fuck. Hell, even silence together is an activity that one wouldn’t mind stretching until infinity. You want more and more and more of them, and hopefully the other person wants more of you too.

What makes me want more and more until I pass out? Chocolate covered strawberries! My gawwwd, I could eat them forever if my body would let me. I think chocolate-covered strawberries are such a perfect combo of everything I could want in a treat. I’m not really a huge fan of chocolate itself, but dip a strawberry in it and I’m fighting to be first in line. They’re so decadent, juicy, sticky, sweet and they make me happy. Of course there are other great things to eat, which I enjoy in their own context, but there aren’t many things that I can confidently give the title of “I love it so much I want to eat it forever.” With that train of thought, along with the several other connotations that could be attached to chocolate-covered strawberries, it wasn’t long before I connected the idea with the human heart series that I started. It seemed like the perfect match for me to describe how it is for me to be in love with someone. But instead of sharing the piece by selling it or gifting it to someone, I decided that it was something that I needed to keep for myself – to serve as a reminder of what I need to feel in any possible love situations in the future. Over the years I’ve been able to become in-tune with what feels wrong for me in a romantic relationship, but unfortunately I’ve recently realized that I am now unclear about what is right anymore. The outline for that used to be so vivid and obvious, and usually correct, but now it seems that I have lost that compass for myself. Perhaps there’s a part of me that needs to assign some sort of hope somewhere, and my strange attachment to El Chocolate and continuing to use it as inspiration could be an example of me searching for whatever that hope is. I’m not totally sure if that’s what it all is yet, but I might be close.

Chime in on any of this if you want. I’d love to know your thoughts about this post, about love, where you are with it and how you would describe the feeling for yourself. Hit me up in the comments section.