Blog / 2018 / The Power of Repeating Yourself

July 16, 2018

[video transcript]

Listening to your audience’s reaction to you art is useful, as long as you strike a good balance between listening to others and yourself. To see my painting of a rainbow cow unicorn, go here.

If you like my style, you can commission your own portrait.

a young white woman with curly hair, painted in bright colors and bold strokes
Gwenn Seemel
Kaity Gmitter
acrylic on panel
7 x 5 inches

It’s been three summers. When we first heard it, it didn’t really sink in, what was going on, but, three summers in, the pattern is obvious.

The “it” I’m talking about is a silver sedan that drives by our apartment blaring the same song almost every day. We live in a small beach community where people come to vacation, so it makes a certain kind of sense that this would just be a summer thing. The rest of it though? The choice of the song and the repetition at such a high volume has left us wondering about the person in the car.

Over the years, we’ve made up all kinds of stories about the why of it, searching for meaning in the pattern. Then, a few nights ago on our evening walk, we heard the song approaching. When the car pulled up next to us, stopped by a traffic light, I seized the moment. I waved at the driver to get his attention and asked: why that song? Turning down the music, he gave us a kind of verbal shrug:

“I don’t know. I like it.”

Needless to say, this was not among the explanations we had invented. It left us feeling like we’d been chasing a unicorn for years and, when we did catch up with the mythical beast, we discovered it wasn’t what we thought it was. As my friend Maggie put it, the unicorn turned out to be a horse with a toilet paper tube taped to its forehead.

It’s a little sad, but the song and the sedan still make me smile, partly because I’m making up new stories about why the driver didn’t tell us more and partly because I can’t help but think of this whole story in terms of art.

I mean, all the guy did was repeat the same action at different times most days for three summers, and he inspired so much delight, so many stories! That’s how powerful an artist’s audience is. Even a simple gesture becomes elaborate in the viewer’s imagination.

I paint portraits in a recognizable style and I have done so for fifteen years, sharing videos like this one for the past eight. To some I’m just a horse with a paper tube taped to my forehead, a noticeable but not so mythical beast who’s not worth pursuing. But to others I’m a unicorn. The important thing is that I know who I am and why I do what I do.

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