For this Fall semester, I am taking Painting II in order to fulfill my major requirements to graduate, and quite honestly I was nervous about this class. I took Painting I back in Spring 2021, and haven’t touched or experimented with oil paints since then, so I was tad anxious on using them again for this semester. However, when I began painting a still life in the first session, I grew a bit more comfortable in the medium. Critiques always make me nervous, but the feedback and comments I received were valuable, since I want to hone in my skills and improve.
In my free time, I decided to experiment a bit with oil paint, using a spare canvas in my room to do something productive. I went with a more “existential approach” to my art-making, taking a page from the Handbook of Art Therapy by Cathy Malchiodi, which is a bit new since I usually stuck with focusing on psychoanalysis and Carl Jung. But recently, I have been a bit anxious about my future, so creating something related to that sounded more fitting.
One of my favorite films as kid was The Last Unicorn, mainly stemming from the fact it was mother’s favorite as well. A lot of themes from the film flew over my head when I was. younger, mainly focusing on how beautiful the movie looked and how pleasing the music sounded; unicorns were also amazing in my eyes and the fact the main character was one made it ten times better. Watching it now as an adult, I can’t help but feel a bit emotional, relating a lot to the unicorn protagonist and her journey throughout the film. I’ll do my best not to spoil the film, as of now it is streaming on Hulu so I definitely recommend giving it a watch. As the title suggests, the protagonist is the last of her kind, to which she cannot stand idly by knowing. In her safe, enchanted forest she lives in amongst other woodland creatures, the unicorn decides to travel the world to find the her kind, not believing they have vanished. By the end of her journey, her wise and innocent nature has shifted into something more humane, a quality unlike an immortal creature.
“I’m a person who enjoys being their comfort zone, venturing beyond it stirs nervousness within me, and it takes a lot for me to buck up the courage to become who I need to be.”
So why make an existential painting of a unicorn using oil paint? As I mentioned, I wanted to experiment and practice using oil paints, and I had a spare canvas to try it on. The painting itself is not as intricate or aesthetically pleasing as the film, but the feelings behind each of those strokes of paint outweigh it all. It is quite a simple painting: a unicorn standing in a moonlit forest. I view it as the moment the protagonist leaves her forest into the unknown world to search for answers about the rest of her kind. While painting this piece, I thought a lot of what was bothering me in previous months, and also the worries I have for the future.
I’m a person who enjoys being their comfort zone, venturing beyond it stirs nervousness within me, and it takes a lot for me to buck up the courage to become who I need to be. In addition, I tend to overthink to the point of worrying about several possibilities and unknown futures. But staying in one place and never-changing is no way to live, taking a step forward means finding solutions to problems that couldn’t be solved at first. Rather than stay in one place and constantly worry about how scary the future might be, I should venture out into the forest step-by-step and find the answers and solutions that will make the uphill journey more manageable. Despite The Last Unicorn having a bittersweet ending, it gives me a sense of comfort every time I watch it.