Joyful Living

My relationship with painting

My relationship with painting

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.

In January 2013 I took my first online painting class. It was Flora Bowley’s Bloom True e-course. And well, my paintings sucked. Big time. I still have the canvases, one isn’t even finished, hidden under blank canvases. I just couldn’t do what she was doing. Never mind that she is painting for ages and is able to make a living with her art. Well, and then there was work and I didn’t have time and energy and so the whole painting thing sort of dissipated.

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.

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5 Responses to My relationship with painting

  1. Absolutely great performance,
    Of thoughts thru colors,
    On the beautiful humble,
    Platform of white canvas.

    Corinna, Just like sometimes birds need a tree or a terrace to sit and sing, so do we need colors and canvas for our thoughts to perform. Thanks for sharing the fragrance of your thoughts!!

  2. Nice to read that you keep going this year – in terms of blogging as well as in terms of painting. I like it. I like to read about how you slowly learn to discover yourself, to deal with your needs and no-gos. It’s a revelation to read about that process. And yes, of course there is a lot of that in painting. Come here in spring, and I teach you how to give your journey three dimensions. How to carve your sorrows into stone, how to chisel your hard times into it, how to gouge your joy into it – and give the stone a smooth surface which delights you each time you use the bowl, dish, vase or other device. Let’s have some fun together. I miss the long talks we had about fifteen years ago.

    Love, Melanie

    • I miss our long talks too. Just recently I was thinking about a walk we had close to your home. Part of these days were easy going although already then there was a lot of grief. I never tried carving something. The only sculpturing I have ever done was with clay or fimo. It sounds really interesting.

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