My relationship with painting is a difficult one. I didn’t paint for years (maybe more like eons). The last time was in school when I was forced to do so in the art classes. I never saw myself as a painter or someone who could paint. I always thought that my products are sucky and ugly and that I don’t have what it takes to paint.
Funny that I thought being able to paint is a natural gift like your eye and hair colour. It took me years to become a chemist but I never thought that the same would apply to becoming a painter or a writer. I always thought that these things are inherent for some people and others don’t have them. I was in the category of people who are not creative or musical and so I never really gave it a try.
I did nothing until August 2013. I don’t know what hit me but then I just started painting again. I was on holidays and suddenly felt inspired to paint. One day I was meandering around the lake looking at the reeds and thought: “I could paint that”. And so I did. I spent the next four days splattering paint on canvas boards, setting up layer upon layer and finally outlined the shapes of the reed and filled the “blank” spaces with a light turquoise, covering most of my colourful marks. I traced the outlines with black or white and then my first painting was finished.
In the evening I sat in my chair and looked at the painting, realising that it was me who had done it and had sort of a shock. I didn’t paint until January 2014. It is strange when the thing that cannot be suddenly happens. Well, not so suddenly but I didn’t even realise what I was doing. I was just doing. And then there was my painting and I liked it. My brain didn’t deal so well with this new reality and needed some time to get accustomed to it.
What I realised over the last two years is that I need white space to be creative. A lot of advice comes in “Find 15 min a day. That is enough.” but for me it isn’t. It takes time. For once there is the actual painting process for which I need three to four hours. After four hours it is usually enough and I have to move on.
Something I totally underestimated is the mental white space and of this I didn’t have enough. Sure I knew about Artist Dates and all these things and I heard that creativity comes from within. Still, I didn’t understand what they meant until I experienced the shift in my own creativity when my brain had time to relax and think about something else but work and the daily duties.
In 2014 I also had an on and off relationship with painting mainly due to illness. Some of the characteristics of my depression is that I am not very creative or open-minded and totally cut off from my feelings. And then there were a lot of unexamined limiting believes. I made painting and my paintings mean a lot of things and most of them were miserable. In the end painting is just applying paint to paper, canvas or something else and I couldn’t see it technically but always strongly identified with what I was doing. I was more in the painting then inside myself.
And then there were the times when I didn’t know what to do next or the time when I got strongly triggered while using black. While I am painting my mind often wanders off and it always goes to the most beautiful and enticing areas of my thinking, meaning the land of I suck and its many variations. By now I know what is happening but in the beginning I was just sitting there, suddenly feeling bad and extremely negative, hating myself and the world, not to mention the poor painting.
I love the intuitive painting process which is taught by Flora Bowley and Alena Hennessy because there is so little focus on technique. I can just go wild with paints, I am not concentrated on following a special procedure, my mind can wander and then the thoughts surface. It is like I am meeting myself on paper. And I had to realise that I have quite some issues with myself and the things I am doing. It is funny how much I am in my thinking but don’t realise what I am thinking. I am totally unconscious of my thoughts and then I end up in a mess, feeling horrible.
By now it is a little easier. Thanks to therapy and the work of Martha Beck and Byron Katie I become more conscious of my thinking and my inner scripts. The process isn’t pretty and sometimes I wish to look away and not face my thoughts and myself. But in the end the way to healing will be through all of this and I am glad that I found the tools and support to help me deal with it.