For me, painting is a form of journaling. It’s sorting life out. It’s playing. It’s exploring, discovering. And because it leaves a material trace of the decisions, a physical path, each painting becomes a sort of record. In essence it documents a journey. Silence can be more potent than words. Colors and textures and line can convey things directly, in ways narrative imagery can not.
Like the way our lives unfold, sometimes a painting moves in a steady flow. Other times the way is staggered; we take a few steps forward and then fall back. Or other things require our attention. Despite our fervent intentions, old habits may bedevil us, and can fill us with feelings of disappointment, embarrassment, or regret. Endlessly in school. But in my paintings and life, there’s a glimmer of hope in the awareness and acceptance of my imperfect, switchback route.
This piece is a sort of quiet tapestry. It felt complete enough months ago that I shared it in a show. I was delighted some dear friends purchased it. Unwished for circumstances have delayed getting it to them. During this time the personal challenges of letting go, over and over, had me despondent and adrift. I was not pulled to paint.
So it sat, in plain view, as my soul reeled and rested, a conspicuous mute witness. All the while I kept looking at this piece, thinking and not thinking. When first made it was a spontaneous effort, direct and honest, like a burst of emotions we may share in conversation. In retrospect it lacked a coherent wholeness. It’s appealing fresh impetuosity revealed a lack of patience. I sensed a failure to “listen.” I recognized all this, but felt stuck, fearful about attempting to alter it.
Finally, this week, for the first time in nearly two months, I found the courage to attend to what for so long didn’t feel right. Trusting that my friends who’d made the purchase would encourage me to follow my gut, I tentatively took some gentle steps, made some temporary intuited adjustments — and all at once it felt more “right”, more spacious and harmonious. And so this imperfect painting will soon be delivered to its new owners’ home.
We all need to honor our limits and our need to recharge. But also, no matter how hard we try, we’ll never create our best self solely by plotting the future, or dwelling in the past. We’ve all accumulated missteps; our task is to build on them. When I come into acceptance, show up in the school of now; my authentic unseparated self appears, and I can share in the dance of living.