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I Paint the Ugly Paintings

Sammie Burgett with her painting, "Cryptic"

Sometimes I paint the ugly paintings. I paint the ideas that collect in the hallways of my mind, the ones that are banished from reality because they aren’t pretty.

They aren’t perfect.

They don’t remind you of sunsets or soft dreams.

They make you feel something too deeply.

Sometimes, these ugly paintings give me the release I need. When confusion boils over into anger and I can’t see through the blinding wish that all would be clear, I grab the colors jammed in the back of old drawers and birth something unsightly. Twisted images of grays and reds and seething blacks that claw away at the vibrancy of my softest teals and purples.

I mix sadness and relief. Distress and peace. Mixing, swirling, forgetting the rules and ignoring muddied lines. I let the painting paint me, as if the canvas isn’t blank at all, but rather a mirror into my aching feelings.

It’s what I need, sometimes.

I need to know that life is not simply our longterm goals and dream manifestations. I need to know that it’s okay for life—my life—to brighten and dim, in spite of who’s watching.

Because we’re all just figuring life out, aren’t we?

I paint the ugly paintings to blend illusion with reality—my life is incomplete without the murkiness inside me. Rather than tuck my shame away, I’ll spill confusion on the canvas. Large, challenging those who seek from me their version of beauty and perfection.

And as the paintings dry, and my satisfaction threatens to fade into judgment—I remind myself that this is reality, and it’s complete. It’s whole. It’s real. It feels fully. It inspires new possibilities. It’s lovely, in all it’s grungy glory.

It’s a part of me.



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