This week, I have shifted my focus from internal reflection to external creation.
A few days ago, I decided it was time to take a break from exploring the difficulties of my past.
Today I decided to begin channelling my energy away from the internal realm of memories, beliefs and emotions, towards the external world of artistic expression and creation.
This morning I finished a colourful design called 'Centring' that I had been working on since yesterday:
The subject of the piece is a meditating figure sitting in a crossed-legged position. She is placed behind a white line that runs down the centre of the canvas, symbolising the midline of the body. In meditation, focusing on the midline of the body (placing your attention on the base of the spinal cord running up towards the top of the head) allows you to centre yourself, and grounds the body so as to feel balanced, centred, and stable. When I am feeling off-centre, emotional, or mentally 'scrambled', I find this technique useful for returning to a more grounded and stable state of mind.
A compassion-based technique I like to use when centring is to imagine a small kitten wandering away from the midline, gently bringing the small creature back to the centre line. The image of a kitten makes the exercise softer and more compassionate, which is useful when we are feeling particularly critical of our own emotions.
Painting 'Centring' was a lovely step back into the world of acrylic painting. You can find the original canvas on my online gallery and shop.
Once I had got back into the swing of using a paintbrush, I fancied doing something a little more abstract and daring. After a little meditation to clear my mind (I always find that I paint best when my mind is out of the way), I decided to go on instinct and paint something purely from my imagination - no planning, no prior conception of what might happen... just a medium-sized canvas and a few dollops of blue and green paint.
I began with ultramarine blue, half-imagining the yellows and blues of Van-Gogh to emerge on the canvas. Instead, from blue followed green, and then a purple sky emerged above a blue-green landscape of rising hills.
I found myself in an energetic frenzy, completely disconnected from my own thoughts and experiences. I was wholeheartedly connected with the canvas. For at least an hour, I felt enraptured, painting in a half-conscious daze entirely at the mercy of my impulses to slash and dab heavy layers of colour onto the canvas.
When my mind tried to grab my attention with a thought or a doubt - when it whispered "you're going to ruin this," or "that doesn't look like a tree," I aimed to silence my inner critic and trust 100% in the motion of my body. It didn't matter what it looked like; the painting was not there to be judged or criticised. It was a piece of art emerging, and in art, there are no mistakes.
That really is the joy of painting (if you'll pardon the Bob Ross reference): there are no mistakes. Every strange object depicted, every peculiar stroke of the brush, stands for an original creation in the making. Who is to say what is a good piece of art? In the act of spontaneous creation, there is no judgement, no imposition of the mind. The body is free to act impulsively, unrestrained and unfettered by the harsh boundaries and judgements of the ego.
The result was 'Intergalactic':
I think this piece certainly captures the moving, other-worldly energy and spirit of the state in which it was created.
When the piece was finished, my first reaction was to laugh. I smiled, feeling as though I had woken from a deep slumber and stumbled across a peculiar painting. "How did this happen?" I wondered. "Where did these images come from?...and how did I know how to paint them?"
Imagination is a peculiar thing. But it is a joy to give free rein to the wandering unconscious mind, to liberate the spirit and pour forth the self into a piece of art
'Intergalactic' is also available on my shop page and is featured in the online gallery.
Thanks for reading! If you would like to keep up to date with my latest paintings, you can subscribe to my blog. Happy creating!