I've been walking down memory lane today. Let me share what found. This painting is quite special. It was the first painting that I have ever sold. I produced it when I was at University studying to complete my Bachelor's degree in visual arts. A friend of mine offered her shop for a show of my work. I think I hung 4 pieces for a month within her salon.
It wasn't long before one of her patrons decided to purchase this beauty. I have no idea where it is hung as I failed to keep in touch. However, I'm thrilled that it is out there somewhere. It feels like a beacon reminding me of all that is possible. It is the evidence that my work is saleable. That I can paint. That my joy translates onto the canvas.
I thought you might like to see it. It is different than my current work, however, it is the foundation of where my art career began.
What do you think? Let me know. I'm curious.
My Peony Series is coming along. I have plans to complete 15 paintings all focused on that gorgeous bloom - the peony.
This is one of the most challenging flowers to paint simply because of the abundance of petals that you literally get lost in as you try to articulate which one goes where.
My process, up until this point, has been to articulate the shapes using the greyscale. This has been a really effective way to capture the details, then move to colour once that layer has dried. There are a couple of limitations to this, the main one being time. 1) The time to create the painting increases because you are basically painting the image twice and 2) the drying time for each layer ads to the completion time of the painting.
So I decided to venture into painting directly in colour rather than the greyscale. To be honest, I've been a bit scared by it. Removing a key step to my process unsettled me. However, I just began, like I always do, putting paint on the canvas. I'm 9 hours in with several of the hours being wasted in doubt and mixing the various shades of pink. Can you hear the judgement when I say wasted in the previous sentence.
Yes, judgement has been a constant companion with this change in process. It's really no different than the judgement that I was faced with when I started the greyscale process. So I know I've travelled this path before and it's a necessary step to the success that I have already achieved in the greys. It's no different with colour. Building confidence required that we do something versus just reading or wishing about it.
One of my mentors calls it the "Messy Middle". It sure is a messy middle. It's a hot mess, or that's what my judgemental mind wants to tell me.
However, the other thing I know to be true is that I can only focus on one section at a time, and I do know what I'm doing if I pay attention and listen to what my intuition is telling me needs to come next. That's all I ever have to work with.
As David Whyte says "Start close in." I'll attach the poem here for you. Start close in with the first step. That's all we have to work with. Just start close in.
Start Close Inby David Whyte
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
way to begin
Start with your own
give up on other
don’t let them
your own voice,
Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
heroics, be humble
start close in,
for your own.
Start close in,
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
A David Whyte poem from
River Flow: New & Selected Poems
Many Rivers Press
I'm in my studio this morning preparing my next set of paintings. I'm working on peonies, for a bit of context.
Have you ever been at the flower market display and felt that the $15 or $25 to buy the bunch of flowers, is too much? It just feels a bit, I don't know, excessive like you're really going out of your way to buy something frivolous. I don't know if you've ever had that but for me I always think twice about buying cut flowers because they don't last all that long. Yes, they're beautiful, but then I think the underlying current is I don't always allow myself to have that luxury because it feels like the $25 or whatever it costs is not necessary right at the moment. That my desire for beautiful things is not that necessary. Youch.
I talk myself out of it and I really love beautiful flowers I love having the colour, the shapes, the luxury of it in my home, the beauty of having, you know, something that's just delicious.
I realized in painting peonies, in this case, that I love all kinds of different types of flowers and through painting them I get to have that beauty and that luxury in a more permanent way, in a way that my investment allows me to enjoy it every single day. They aren't going to perish and I'm not going to have to discard them after a week or so.
The painting is a more permanent experience of that flower and, for me, as I start to complete more paintings and hang them around my home, have art displays, put them on my website and that kind of thing the feeling of that flower is everlasting. When I look at these paintings I feel the same way I felt when I first saw them. I feel the joy. I feel the luxury. I feel the worthiness of having that kind of beauty around me and I'm curious if you have ever considered that we limit ourselves because of an immediate expense and yet our heart and soul is yearning to be surrounded by more beauty. To allow ourselves the luxury of having beautiful things around us.
One of the problems that my paintings solve is that you can feel the luxury and the opulence of having beautiful flowers around you every single day and they're not going to perish. They are a constant reminder that we are worthy of the things that we enjoy. That we can create the space for the luxury and opulence that we desire.
What do you think? If this resonates with you I'd love to hear your comments. What's your favourite flower? What things do you like to surround yourself with that feel a bit opulent, a bit special or luxurious?
Claiming what we want is not always easy. We don't want to come across as a victim, we want to take responsibility for our decisions and we want to consciously step into what we want. Give a listen to my journey of claiming something that I want, an artist residency to focus on growing my art practice.
Since 2008, I've been collecting images with the intention of creating paintings from them. Have you ever collected things for some day and wondered when that someday will every come? Or perhaps it isn't even a some day thought, but rather a "Wow, I collect a lot of things. What was I going to do with this?"
I'm notorious for having more ideas than I can act on. What this has created for me, is a backlog of creative ideas. Unfortunately some of those ideas, when I pick them up months later, no longer hold the juice or appeal that they once did. This is an idea that has gone stale and I'm best to just move on, and let it go, rather than trying to give it mouth to mouth.
Feb 2019, was one of those moments where I was checking on which creative ideas were still breathing and worth saving. I have a binder that I've put my collected images in and decided to see if there was anything I wanted to pursue.
The Lit Lotus flower caught my eye immediately. I remember thinking "I wonder if I could paint that?" It seemed pretty difficult and I had nothing to lose. I was either going to be able to paint it or I wasn't.
Now this post isn't so much about the selection of the image or the challenges I perceived I would have. What is really important here is that I followed my curiosity. I allowed my creativity to speak to me. What if my muse also want to meet me in this creative place? What if the creation of art is not all about me? What if by showing up, I allow a force greater than myself to speak through me?
That seemed like a cool idea and it sort of let me off the hook. All I had to do was listen, show up, and follow the guidance that I am given. Rather than thinking that I have to decide and figure out every aspect of the piece on my own.
Now I don't know about you, but my monkey mind likes to have a hay day with me and tell me how untalented I am, how I've failed, and who am I to think I could be a painter, artist, author or whatever creative genius shows up to guide me.
Facing my art with my monkey mind alone felt so heavy and unrewarding. Like paddling against the current.
However, if my responsibility was to show up and my muse will be there with me, to guide me, then I have an ally to do this with. I won't be left alone with the monkeys. Cool.
This Lit Lotus has brought so many gifts as I've brought the piece together. One of the most striking things is the light and the reflections. The perspective of this image is showing us the underside of the lotus flower. The underbelly if you will. The mechanics under the star of the show (the centre of the flower). What we see is the support system that is often hidden. Which reminded me again of my muse who is there to support me. The hidden structure that is holding me up to the light.
Now as the light penetrates from above it casts a shadow of the far pedals on the inside of the near petals. We are at once transparent and opaque. The light can pass through and cast a notion of solidity on the areas that are receiving no light.
What are the areas in you that appear solid, but have yet to receive the light? Which areas are transparent?
We can also consider the colour. Gorgeous pink. Yet the nuances of the pink gives us the descriptions we need to understand shape, order, rhythm and connection. Amazing. We can only understand the whole flower by considering the constituent parts. Where the shadows falls on the interior of the bloom, two layers of pink line up to reveal a deeper colour. I know this sounds simply like the physics of the illumination, but I find this to be a great metaphor for life. Where the light does not penetrate we see/feel a deeper shade. A depth that is not possible in the full light.
Just as the lotus flower comes from the mud, and opens up its bloom once upon the top of the water, so too is this painting opening up to the enlightenment of our development. As we clear the mud, tell ourselves the truth, and reach above the confusion we too can bloom into receiving the light and enrichment that only exists on the surface of the water.
How does this image remind you of the mud that you have found yourself in? How is it calling you to reach up to the surface and allow yourself to bloom?
For me, telling myself the truth was centred around leaving a position that I was tolerating and allowing myself to bloom into my creativity. I've become more authentic. This is a tricky way to phrase it because it implies an inauthentic way of being. Which may be partly true. In not allowing myself to tell the truth about a situation that was causing me distress I was being inauthentic. Telling the truth and allowing things to shift and change just as they are needed, can be a bit frightening. However, I know that all this was necessary for me to turn towards the light and explore my creativity.
I've cried several times as I relayed my shift to more painting with friends and family. I've cried because I've spend 10 years as a coach encouraging and supporting other people to realize the life that they want to live, which has been great to see their progress. What I was neglecting is my own desire. I simply could not make space for all the things I was involved in and have this creativity blossom.
I now cry because I'm proud of myself. Proud that I am talented, capable, and successful. Proud that I had the courage to be honest and allow this creativity to come through me.
If you were to be completely honest, what would you be saying? What would you realize.
May this lotus flower remind you that it is only through growing out of the mud that we are able to breach the surface and bloom into our full beauty.