"Mule Portrait"

Alison Polston

I’ve lived in several walks of life; from a rural country mouse, to a suburban kid, to a city-dweller. I spent all of my time between running around with any assortment of farm animals to absorbing media in my spare time between school. I spent quite a bit of time as a kid commuting between all these worlds including the southwest for visitation, and even back in the midwest those influences being brought back in the form of chili string lights, home-made mexican vanilla icecream, and planted cactus everywhere. I never really felt like I belonged any which where, so a huge way I connected with people was through the internet drawing, and to connect and make friends you made your art a lot about who you are. Like swapping what you are between people to connect. A ton of my influences and what I draw are just different pieces of what I love and who I am. Whether it be influenced by music I love (a lot of my work has titles related to lyrics I love), animals I am really interested in at the time, emotions I’m having or dealing with due to past hurt or loneliness, places I’ve loved, and even something as simple as what food I’m craving or clothes I wish I had. If I boiled it down I’d say some of my biggest themes and loves are plants, animals, folksy work, southwestern vibes, lyrics or poetry, and antique trinkets.

This piece I drew during a slump in my art. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with how amazing other’s art is that I lose sight of who I am as an artist. I try to become a myna bird and draw what they draw, or how they draw and it drains me of my creativity. For this piece I pulled back and just took a breath and started sketching different things I love at the moment. I found I kept coming back to drawing mules, they’re a hybrid of two animals but can’t create anything new themselves, which is kind of how I felt in the moment. So I recreated the mule in a painting with one of my favorite plants that I know I’ll always have fun drawing, cactus. I plopped a little beanie on top that looks like a beanie I own since it’s finally fall, one of my favorite seasons next to winter. In the end I finally created something that felt fun again and felt really me. In a way it turned out to be a self portrait. Just a hybrid critter who loves the cold but also loves the desert. Black and white, always wanting opposites.

I don’t think art always has to start out as something purposeful, a big project, or have any deep meaning about the world. A lot of my pieces just start as me wanting to draw things I like or express a feeling I’m having because I don’t know how to reach out to other’s, and that’s ok. If it’s something you love or are finding some fascination with, just draw it! Over and over as much as you are craving making it. If you really love something, other people seem to love it too because they love what other people love. Plus, I find if you just draw with a passion for something, it always ends up saying something about itself without you having to force any meaning at all.

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