View Full Version : "Behind the Happy Mask" sorta WIP

08-19-2003, 05:05 PM
As part of my Independent Study art class this year, I have to come up with all my own assignments, and this is the first of those: a series focusing on people who wear masks to hide their emotions. Every color I use, for the most part, will revolve around showing those emotions and such.

There's a story behind this, one a lot bigger than I originally thought (God does some crazy stuff sometimes, lol). The whole issue of people hiding what they really feel came up a lot during the summer, in church and at camp and in my own life and in my friends' lives. Combining that issue with my interest in how colors portray emotions - color psychology of sorts, I guess, was a natural choice for this first group of paintings. I expected this to maybe get my friends thinking, especially the ones who know various things going on in the group but "wear masks" when confronted with the issues.

On Monday - the first day of school - one of the senior guys at my school committed suicide. I didn't know him, but I know his little brother (who's my age, a junior) and I met one of his good friends this year (through art class, incidentally). From what I've pieced together about the situation, only this guy's close friends and family really had even any idea about his struggles; most people seemed to think he was somewhat strange, but most didn't see this coming.

The whole idea of my painting - this guy wore a mask at school, one that said "I'm okay, leave me alone." High schools are so fake.

So now I'm wondering what impact this painting is going to have.

Anyway, here it is, not done; in fact, it's at a kinda awkward stage, since I just completely painted over the face and drastically changed the shape of the mask so it doesn't cover the hands anymore. Comments welcome; please keep in mind that I'm not done with the face, the mask, and hands. Everything else is mostly done unless you see some glaring errors.

12x16" on canvas board. Using the paints the school has, which are a hodge podge of brands, student and artist alike: perylene maroon (which I can't find anywhere and i love it! :crying: ), ultramarine, diox violet, pyrrole red, burnt sienna, titanium white, and a touch of yellow ochre.


(whew, that's a lot to read, thanks for reading this far :p )

08-19-2003, 06:21 PM
You're right. People are very situational. In the presence of their parents, they are a child. Around their friends, they conform to the perceived ideas of normality. You mentioned you go to church, are you the same person there as when you are at school?
I like the cool shadows of the "true" person. Keep the mask bright. I enjoy the work.

08-19-2003, 06:58 PM
What an interesting and challenging assignment you have set yourself!

You are right of course about the masks that people wear. Perhaps I have led a sheltered life but I am really only now coming to a realisation of how true this is of people. Most people want others to think that all is well and - more importantly - most people want to believe it of others!

Well done ms banana - I know you will produce some interesting and thought-provoking work and I look forward to seeing more of it :clap: :clap:

Leslie Pz
08-19-2003, 09:37 PM
Ahh, those masks! I have met many in my day, as well!

This piece really evokes thought and conversation!

Laura Morena
08-20-2003, 01:56 AM
Looks like you have a good start! Post your updates. It is a shame about that student. He must have had such a great deal of depression and inner turmoil. And on the first day of school. He apparently thought that things were so bad that he couldn't face the school year and all the responsibility that goes along with being a senior in school. You will find many people in life that put up a false front, as they feel it is better than the real thing. :(

08-20-2003, 09:08 AM
Suicide is such a sad thing, and so destructive to those around the person, close or not:( So take care of yourself as you explore this subject.
I find all your work interesting and would like to see this completed.:)

08-20-2003, 04:12 PM
Thanks everyone for your comments so far.

I should be finished by tomorrow or Friday; I'll try and use my art teacher's digital camera and post a final update from school. Right now all that's left is the mask.

artcolony1 - As much as I would like to say I'm the same person at school and church, I know I'm not. It's a constant struggle to be the same person in the "world" (school) as I am in church, because it's so much harder to live for God in a place that doesn't seem to want Him. And even at church, it's almost just as fake, because there's so much pressure to be this good happy Christian all the time - and I'm not. That's where this series came from; the suicide just deepened it that much more.

JMF & Leslie - That's the goal, to be thought-provoking. Artwork is such a platform for sharing your ideas; that's where I'm going with this.

Laura - It breaks my heart to think of how much he was struggling; it's even worse to find out that drugs compounded the problems he was already dealing with. It almost makes me mad - this could've been prevented! If he hadn't felt the need to wear that mask . . . if someone had tried to see through it . . . if someone had gotten him help - and from the very little I know about the situation, I think that someone would've had to risk losing his friendship to go and tell someone, but it would've been worth it . . .

Shirley - God's taking care of me. I'm not close to the situation at all; just close enough for God to give me the desire to stand up and do something. What, I don't know, but I feel like I need to take action to prevent this from happening again. The painting's a start, I guess...

Thanks again everyone, expect an update by the weekend. :)

08-28-2003, 04:27 PM
Here's the finished painting. Thanks for looking!

Skin got grayed out a bit in the picture, should be a little bit pinker.


Leslie Pz
08-28-2003, 04:58 PM
Nice piece and I think given the current times, very appropriate... masks can also hide inner pain and thoughts. Very good. Very nice palette.

Originally posted by Shirley Quaid
Suicide is such a sad thing, and so destructive to those around the person, close or not:(

So very true what Shirley said.

It's hard to put things into perspective at "that age". Four short high school years can feel like a death sentence, when one "doesn't fit in". Most of the really cool people never really amount to much in the real world.

LOL Just wait until your 15 or 20y class reunion! What a difference!!! 1/2 are bald, wrinkley and down right not what you would expect! (Ick yes, I do speak from experience, although my memories are going with the age!)_

I am sorry for your friend's loss. Were they close? Is it your class' first experience with death among your peers? Really hits home, when it's "your" age.

08-28-2003, 06:07 PM
Amazing inspiration TalkingBanana...a gift to turn pain into something that can 'speak' to others.

Very moved by this thread, and good job on this piece. There is an edge to 'her', a struggle...almost like she is asking if the mask will fit...
Beautiful red/black tones here...the red seems to add an intensity to this...
Somehow the blue tones on her hands and arms work with this...almost like she is containing more then she can hold and it is 'seeping'...
...I am looking forward to seeing many more of your works!

08-28-2003, 10:20 PM

This painting speaks emotionally like none others that I have seen on this site. The palette is 'right on' for the subject. You have done a wonderful job with respect to technique and artistically as well. I hope that this painting will help you and others deal with this tragedy.

You have great promise.

Lady Carol
08-28-2003, 11:54 PM
I'll give you an A+ for this

08-29-2003, 12:17 AM

Your work is a true wonder. The expression of disdain is purely acidic. The surrealistic style in which the "true" person is portrayed contrasts the clean lines of the "mask". This lends the piece several emotional levels.... Eeekk... I sound like a text book. At least I didn't find a way to work in the phrase "biomorphic flow"... LOL

Beautifully heart-wrenching.

08-30-2003, 11:30 PM
Thanks guys. It's encouraging to hear I got the effect I wanted. :)