• Kirsten Johnston

My painting is an introvert

I do a bit of thinking and reading about introversion and extroversion – the particular ways that people operate, the value society places on extroversion, how different approaches are effective with each person given their placement on the continuum.

It occurred to me that some paintings are definitely extroverts – bright, bold, calling to the viewer to ‘look at me!’, communicating their message with confidence and lack of apology. They are some of the magnificent paintings we remember or that we notice first in an exhibition.

The logical progression here was to consider how a painting might function as an introvert. They would be the subtler works, the ones that take a little more looking, the ones that we come to on our second tour of the collection. They are no more or less important or valuable, just different and, like in humans, there must be some sort of continuous line along which each work places itself.

Or does the artist place them? I am still working with my piece that was a little too subtle. It is destined for a competition where finalists are selected from digital images and it seems to me that, unless the image stands out from the myriad paintings submitted, it will be passed over immediately. To what degree do I need to manipulate the extroversion or introversion of my work to be noticed?

No doubt it all depends on the judges – a completely unknown and uncontrollable quantity – but I am suspecting that I need to take my introverted painting at least a little toward the middle of the spectrum.

So, here’s to a bit of splashing around colour today!


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