How we label ourselves and others…..

I was having a conversation recently with a vibrant, energetic and interesting woman. I asked her if she would be a portrait model for a small group I was about to work with. She said she would love nothing more. She then went onto say that as a child everyone referred to her as being ‘shy’. No matter what she did or wanted to do..parents would step in and say – ‘you do realise that Carrole is very shy’. Carrole had been labeled……

Watercolour of my friend Charlotte…who was always considered to be the life and soul of the party. As I look at this portrait many years after it was painted, I see ‘introspection and a depth ‘- two traits not necessarily associated with Charlotte. Two traits that didn’t fit in with her label. The problem with labels is that they cannot capture the complexity of the human spirit.

Being labeled often happens when we are very young….even during our first three formative years, and so often that label sticks for life. A label can shape our identity and dictate our future!

This is Quintin (watercolour) – a dear little boy I met in Brittany France in 1995. He was very sad during this moment in time because his mother and father had just divorced. He and I spent a lovely day together. I haven’t seen him since I painted this portrait. and so I wonder what labels have been put on him?

In this (watercolour/gouache) portrait of Christie I have added two hummingbirds. Hummingbirds symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ that surrounds us all. Of course for the magic to work, it must be acknowledged and believed….and Christie always has believed in it. Christie is my daughter and so it’s difficult to be objective, but I feel this portrait speaks of her.

This photograph of me with my new born baby Jarrod was taken in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1966. During my life, I have been labeled many things, but at this time In the States I was labeled a ‘foreigner’ and ‘alien’. Jarrod was labeled an American citizen.

The thing is that during life we grow, evolve and change…..and so what happens when we are still stuck with the same labels that we were given at an earlier time – particularly if those same labels hold us back throughout our lives.

watercolour Madame Nottale – an exceptional human being…who later in life stripped away the labels and found herself.

Madame Nottale had been a mother of eight children, a wife, a nurse and someone who could always be counted on to give and care for others. In her late eighties she was put in a nursing home where she found her true self. She painted and wrote every day for the last few years of her life and to the amazement of her children and everyone else, incredible poems flowed from her….and so many paintings that the walls in her room were covered – top to bottom.

From one of my recent posts. ‘It is never to late’. It is never to late to get rid of labels that hold us back.

By the way it’s not just humans that are given labels. Animals are also labeled….Adorable, cute, gorgeous or what???:)

Janet πŸ™‚

61 thoughts on “How we label ourselves and others…..

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    On Tue, Apr 20, 2021, 11:44 AM My Life as an Artist (2) wrote:

    > janetweightreed10 posted: ” I was having a conversation recently with a > vibrant, energetic and interesting woman. I asked her if she would be a > portrait model for a small group I was about to work with. She said she > would love nothing more. She then went onto say that as ” >

  2. Mary Hodgson

    Thanks Janet. Lovely portraits, and wise words. As forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes said -‘There’s no us and them, just us’.

  3. Carol Whitman

    I really like the way you combine your writing and art. I’ve just found my art in the last year, and am taking away mostly internally generated labels about what I can and can’t do. Though the labels I’ve made up for myself had to come from somewhere, right? Think that perfectionism had a lot to do with it, and that came from wanting to fit in and be loved. Thanks so much.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      First of all how wonderful that you have found your art. It is absolutely. normal to put labels on your own art – or I like to say that the ‘chattering monkeys’ say all sorts of things in our heads to try and put us off what we are doing. IGNORE THEM;). Yes, the labels we put ourselves, do come from somewhere…and perfectionism is definitely a bit problem for most people. We try to do what we know others will love, and that can get in the way….however, it’s all part of the process..and so I would say to you, keep painting, and enjoy. Janet πŸ™‚

  4. davidjrogersftw

    Janet, let me start by saying that though you are a foreigner to me-and I to you–i hope we are terribly fond of each other–yuk, yuk. I like this post a lot. Makes anyone who reads it think about labels that have been tagged on them, as you say, many of them when they were too young to protest. I’ve found that most of the labels given to me these day–now–are pretty accurate–at least i agree with them pretty much.

    I love the watercolors in the post and the anecdotes you include. Nice to see Christie and your photo,. Diana and i are trying to figure who the picture looks like. We’ve pinned it down to some movie star but we can’t think of who. Got any ideas?

    Stay well and keep thinking and painting and sending out these great posts. David

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, and yes I definitely consider us tone friends:). Some of the labels pinned on me over the years have bene so wrong, but like you I think as I get older they become more accurate. One thing very few people know about me is that I am actually quite shy….. but even that is getting much better.

      Not sure about who Christie might look like. She is so beautiful and such a lovely person inside and out – I will ask her what she thinks.

      I am painting and writing every day and so enjoying the HUB my local community place. It is wonderful and has changed things for me – all for the positive.

      Hope you and Diana have a lovely day and are enjoying some of the beautiful spring weather that we have.

      Janet πŸ™‚

      1. davidjrogersftw

        I can hear in your response your pride in Christie and your love for her. Sometimes I warch my children just walking down a street or going out a door and I stop and look and feel those things for them. I think, “What nice people they are/” Have a good happy day.

  5. Emma Cownie

    You make many excellent and profound points (and beautiful paintings) labels we are given or give ourself can be very frustrating and limiting. Language is very important and matters. I found your comment about being labelled an alien and foreigner very interesting – it gives you a heightened an awareness of what it is like for “foreigners” in Britain.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Emma. You are right having experienced what it is to be an ‘outsider’ or foreigner/alien has given has helped me to understand what it is to be on the outside…to be an immigrant. It can be a very lonely place. When I went to the States in 1966, I was young, white, and had contacts in the States, and even so, it was difficult.

  6. VJ Knutson

    I am guilty of having labelled one of my daughters as shy. Now a mother of two, she has recently corrected me and pointed out how unhelpful it was. I love that first portrait and how it reveals more of the person. The gift of a skilled artist.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much for this comment. I know I have been guilty of putting labels my children….and others…oh and myself:). We live and learn and sometimes it takes a life time.

  7. helenparsonsart

    This post is inspirational! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work. I can relate to having a label – sensitive. I am moved to tears easily and I experience strong emotions. I have found throughout my life that people who meet me would initially view me as having a sensitive nature and in turn, view this as a weakness and I would experience a lack of respect and certainly be underestimated. Stripping away restrictive labels and believing in who I truly am has been a progressive and positive experience for me.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much for this lovely comment, Helen. To be sensitive is a gift and it shows through your beautiful paintings. Keep painting and everything else will fall into place.

  8. Jet Eliot

    Interesting dialogue on labelling, Janet. I guess it is up to each of us to find our own labels and learn how to express ourselves. Your paintings here, your expression, are a beautiful marvel to behold, Janet. I found that first one, of Charlotte, espec. engaging: the colors, lines, and the depth of her expression. Cheers to you, my friend.

  9. snowbird

    Oh yes, labels sure do stick and it’s a battle o be rid of them. How true though about the labels you receive as you age are so much more accurate. I was always labelled weird, now I happily accept it! Such beautiful portraits, I love the sad little boy and hope he is happy now and Christie is just beautiful as are those delightful hummers around her. Like mother like daughter, you could easily have earned a fortune as a model. Wonderful post as always. Love and hugs.xxxx

  10. Enviroart

    Beautiful portraits and you are so right about labels, they sometimes follow us way too long. I would,like to reblog with your permission. 😊


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