(Continuation of previous post – the image for this post is the new one I painted at the workshop that day. The previous post’s image is the one I have been painting over.) The next day, while at work, I noticed that the artist that started this whole thing was hosting another of the same event! I told my roommate about it and we both headed over after work.
As usual, no idea what I was going to paint. After a couple of seconds of sitting, brush in hand and a beautiful blank canvas, I found myself back at the same basic splitting of the canvas. I’m not sure what is drawing me to that concept the last couple of days – maybe unfinished business from the day before?
Anyway, inspired by the paintings of all the other women sitting around the table, I found myself drawn to softer, pastel colors. I’m not big into mixing – I’m usually heading straight for the bold, bright, loud colors and shapes. So that was kind of cool / interesting / whatever.
I realized tonight that as I paint, I have some kind of narrative playing in my head. Carefully explaining my moves. Trying to find a story behind it all. I guess humans innately have a need for stories in order to understand themselves, life, the world, existence. The story I was telling myself this evening was something about the dichotomy of life. And the green swirly things were just the endless possibilities and paths that we can take. Just some of the ways we can go. My brain always likes to think it’s getting so deep and profound, and then I laugh at myself for doing something stupid like almost dipping my brush into my cup of beer instead of the cup of paint water.
I turned to my roommate and made a comment about how this is probably just my bi-polarity coming out. I’m not actually bipolar, but I thought it was funny.
I love how I lose myself in the painting and never have any idea how long I’ve spent in that other world when I finally re-surface. We took our paintings home and decided to hang them up on our living room wall. It was bare and has been in need of some life and color on it for awhile.
Back at home, I sat down to my original canvas again. I had an inkling that something I learned from the painting earlier in the evening was ready to finish the painting from the previous evening. I layered paint on top of paint. Lines on top of lines. Swirls on top of swirls. Shades and tones and outlines. The story I told myself this time stemmed from noticing how messy one side of the painting was, and how nice and neat and within the lines the other side of it was. “What does this mean?!?” My brain asked frantically, trying to figure out a story before it freaked out completely.
I don’t know – it’s got to do with how I feel like I live two lives. Or that I have the option to live two lives, two different ways. I can stay within the lines, or I can live this messy life the way my brain experiences it. I found it interesting that the clean, neat side was a much smaller portion of the canvas than the rest of it. Our true selves are so hard to hide. It comes out in small ways even when we try our best to hide it. My brain is a mess, it might always be that way. There can be a darkness to that, but there is also a beautiful lightness to it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the by-the-rules approach either. It’s fine, conventional. Traditionally aesthetically pleasing.
What I want is the two to combine, I’m just not yet sure how to make that work.
When my roommate and I hung up the first two canvases when we returned home, it felt like something was missing. We needed a third. But I wasn’t sure if I was done with this project yet – if I was ready to hang up the original canvas.
As I was painting it though, I thought – isn’t it a nice sentiment that sometimes, or maybe oftentimes, in life, things are not complete by themselves. As humans, there is a sense of incompleteness as standalone units. There is a greater beauty in combining, in intertwining, in interconnecting. Relying on each other and building off of each other. I’d like to paint in collaboration with others. That would be cool.
I hung up the third painting next to the other two that were already on the wall. It doesn’t mean I’m done with it. I can always take it down and add more to it later.
One last thing I feel like sharing – a few of the other women tonight, I noticed, created some absolutely stunning paintings. Something they had in common was that they left a lot of white space, and it felt comfortable. I realized then, that I always felt this need to cover the whole canvas. To fill it right up. How predictable of me. That is exactly a reflection of how I view my life. Maybe, what I learned from that is to leave more space next time. Just a little bit. Just to test how it feels.