Beth Meadows


About the Painting: Their Sadness Overwhelmed Them

Beth MeadowsComment

Title: Their Sadness Overwhelmed Them

Dimensions: 34 x 28"

Medium: acrylic, varnish, and food packaging collaged on canvas

Artist: (Me!) Beth Meadows

Painted In: I started this painting several years ago (maybe 2010??) and completed it this year, at the beginning of July.

Influences (Below is a window to my often hidden soul. Be warned.) and Process:

  • There was a time I was pretty sad. So most of my 20s, and before then, as a child up until high school... so, a long time. After college, almost every day for at least two years, I'd cry- at home, at work, in my car, and all other places in between. It was exhausting, terrible, addictive, and in moments of clarity, baffling and- not funny haha- but funny how I couldn't find my way out of it when I was in it. A few years out of the worst of it, I decided to make a painting that mocked depression's stupidity, and that painting is this painting. 
  • The space is based on the kitchen in my studio apartment in Maplehurst, the charming neighborhood in Knoxville I lived in right after college. (You could see the Sunsphere from the kitchen window.) It really was a magical place, full of musicians and free-spirited people. We all lived frugally but were creative enough to have a lot of fun adventures. Magical, chaotic, irresponsible- good words to describe that time. (Sidenote: If I had known how badly being irresponsible suited me, I would have known this was such a large part of my discontentment. But it took me ten more years to figure that one out, like only a month ago did I realize this. I bought (and maybe sometimes still buy) into the inaccurate theory that being an artist means living a care-free, chaotic, tethered to nothing life, but I've learned I am much more content being a responsible human being, a twist to my life I didn't expect nor have easily accepted.)
  • The cat: So you may have heard. I have a cat named Juicy, and she came with this very apartment in Maplehurst. No lie. The girl I sublet from left her there so I could have her. While I was not in great mental shape at this time, it was during those two years I started down the long road to recovery, and it was Juicy that first helped me. Well, God, and then Juicy. I have, and seriously had back then, a difficult time accepting love from others into my life, which I believe is the cause of a lot of my pain and searching. My sadness was too unbearable at that time, so I left Juicy for five weeks to go to L'abri in Switzerland to see if my depression could be dealt with there (It was and I love that place for this reason). I don't know if it was God, but what may have been God, told me to return to Knoxville and "Accept All Amounts of Real Love" specifically, let that cat's love into my life. And so it was Juicy's presence that started me down a better path. I was still terribly sad, but when I'd come home to that cat rolling and meowing in dirt at the sight of me, I'd pick up her soft fleshy body and relish in all of her warmth and purring love. It's a vulnerable thing to admit, but it is the reason I painted this, and it's the reason I love that little angel cat dearly.
  • At the not great advice of a peer who critiqued the painting many years ago, I got stuck on how to complete it, so I didn't touch it for several years. I also realized it had a striking and unintentional "Alice in Wonderland" quality, which also caused me to hesitate. In the end, I just embraced that quality. I watched that movie a lot when I was younger, so it was bound to show up sooner or later.
  • 2016 starts. This year has been a little nuts in terms of transition. I cancelled my one art show scheduled. A week later, Sarah, the former manager at Old City Java, asked if I would hang artwork there within two weeks. I said yes because I like OCJ but knew I had to complete some unfinished work in order to have enough to show. So I picked up this panting again.
  • I refined the girl and added in more objects swirling around. I added the food packaging as a shout out to the series I created in 2014 of supermodels with food packaging as their clothing. I am currently making another similar series.
  • I also went ahead with my original plan- the one I previously got stuck on- to tint varnish blue and paint over the acrylic to insinuate water. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it went over pretty smoothly.
  • The tears were the last touch and my favorite thing about this painting! When I was a kid, my family went to the circus. We were pretty far away from the circular stage but still able to see this one clown's tears shooting from his eyes when he'd get hurt. I loved it so much!! I added these in to talk about how ridiculous depression is, like drowning and no one can throw you a life line. Except for maybe the sweetest and most empathetic cat, loving you one day at a time. 

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