Busy, busy day today. I can’t believe how much work I have these days. I keep saying I’m going to slow down, and then something else shows up. It’s getting quite annoying, in a way—and it also feels like a blessing. I need to orchestrate a conversation between my parts (subpersonalities) that are in conflict about how much work I should be doing. They’ve definitely got very different agendas.
As of today, I’ve been doing this process art practice for a full eight months, and not a day missed. Only four months to go (but who’s counting—ha ha ha). Then I’m going to do something different. I’m thinking about a photo-a-day practice.
I had a sense that I was onto something when I blogged yesterday about being present when I paint. I took it a step further today and followed all the impulses that came to me, without any lag time. It felt like a kind of attention I don’t always bring to my painting—to be consciously listening to the impulses and ready to respond the moment one comes. I’ve enjoyed the other kind of painting for other reasons, one of them being that I can get into a hypnotic, meditative state at times. But today’s way of painting requires a different kind of attention, and it’s something I want to practice more. I wonder whether these two kinds of painting relate in some way to different kinds of meditation . . .
Today’s painting reminded me of one I did at a Painting Experience workshop in Santa Fe in May 2010. It felt like going into a secret cave and painting all the unformed, chaotic energies there. Once I spent enough time in the cave, something was ready to emerge from it. That cave is a place I feel at home in and want to revisit. Here’s that painting:
When I started painting, I was craving pale pastels as if they were some kind of refuge (I’ve had to be very productive today). But as I was painting, I started hungering for more intense color. That little hint of red at the top was incredibly satisfying—and, I think, a hint of what might be coming in another painting before too long. I also started feeling an urge to paint larger.
When I started doing process painting, and particularly back in 2010, when I attended three Painting Experience workshops, I always painted big and always painted with the paper vertical. It’s not practical for me to do that when I’m painting every day, so I’ve gotten used to using smaller paper and painting horizontally on a table. I want to paint big again, but I’m kind of liking painting horizontally because I like to paint as if the tempera paints are watercolors, and I like that they don’t run. But I’ll have to see if having to reach will inhibit my painting when I go bigger.
Here’s today’s cloud photo—another blustery day . . .
I spent some time today looking at yesterday’s painting, and I got excited all over again about stamping. When I sat down to paint, that’s what wanted out, and doing it reminded me that I’ve felt compelled to do some form of it ever since I started painting regularly (after my first Painting Experience workshop, in March 2010). Then I realized that the other very common theme in my paintings has been watercolory painting. And then I got excited about taking a watercolor class—not because I want to learn how to paint realistic subjects but rather because I’d like to learn more about the medium. Charlie is interested, too, so we’re going to go looking for a class. And I’m going to search for stamping activities—with ceramics, with rubber stamps, whatever. It feels as though something is calling to me, and I want to heed the call.
Hmmm—I also like to quilt, and I’ve recently learned about a way to transfer digital collage images to fabric. (Check out the gallery on Diane Rusin Doran’s website if you’d like to see some possibilities.) I wonder what would be involved in creating stamping/watercolory images, transferring them to fabric, and then quilting them. Sounds really fun!
This is a painting I did at a Painting Experience workshop a little over a year ago. I was writing in yesterday’s post about how I sometimes get into painting rhythmically with a fairly dry brush for a long time. I felt as though I was in a trance when I painted this one.
My husband and I talked about having an art immersion weekend every month. We’re going to convert our dining room into a painting space for a weekend. I look forward to having the space and time to get lost in another large painting—and working on it continuously instead of just having a short chunk of painting time each day.
I was distracted when I sat down to paint this evening. I felt an authentic impulse to paint the yellow and green creature, but I wasn’t very present while I was painting it. I got a big writing assignment today for an educational publisher—something I utterly adore doing—and my excitement, along with the time challenge to meet all my deadlines, is filling my mind.
The yellow and green creature felt like a bioluminescent jellyfish. I saw an amazing jellyfish exhibit at the Akron Zoo a few years ago, the magic of those animals has stayed with me. I’ve added a couple of youtube videos of bioluminescent jellyfish at the end of this blogpost for your viewing pleasure.
Then I painted the purple worm thing. It felt a bit like a sea cucumber. At first I felt stiff while I was painting it, too—vertical purple lines that felt tedious and too controlled. But then I had an intuition that I was painting the background for something else. Before long, I was dipping my smallest paintbrush into purple, wiping off a lot of the paint, and doing some kind of scratchy painting that I sometimes get into doing rhythmically and almost hypnotically. I don’t know what it is about that kind of painting that satisfies me so much. I suspect it’s another one of those somatic things—that I’m making movements that my physical and energetic bodies need to either release or embody for my healing.
Last year at a Painting Experience workshop, I did a huge painting with a scribble brush that was mostly those kinds of scratchy strokes. The movements were deeply satisfying, and so were the sounds. I’ll post a photo of that painting tomorrow. I think I could get lost in that scratchy painting for days at a time.
Today was a challenging day. A neighbor hit my parked car in the parking lot outside my apartment building. The damage to my car wasn’t severe, at least on the surface, but it was still upsetting, and it threw off my whole day. I was feeling hyper for most of the day and had to really stay focused to get all my work done.
Even with the stress and inconvenience, I was feeling grateful that my husband and I live the lifestyle we do. We both work from home, and we live within walking distance (1.5 miles each way) of two supermarkets, a drug store, and my bank. It’s nice to be relatively unhooked from the on-the-go mentality of many Americans.
I sat down to do process art later than I usually do. I’ve been noticing lately how much what I do with the art materials seems to be some kind of somatic therapy. It either gets out some energy that wants out or it soothes me in some way. Tonight the paints soothed me.
I’ve always been drawn to watercolor painting, even though I’ve never done it since I was a kid. But whenever I attend a Painting Experience workshop or paint with tempera paints at home, I’m almost always watering them down and trying to paint watercolor-looking things. It doesn’t work so well with the paper I’ve been using, which buckles and crinkles and breaks down after a while. But the watercolor paper I bought last week works great.
I’ll get back to this painting tomorrow evening. Those creatures feel like water hedgehogs. They’re very endearing. I want to go swim with them.