Last year something called me to pick up a set of brushes and start playing with different types of paint and art styles. I began painting watercolour flowers and clouds on tiny scraps of paper, taping them to the walls of my flat which fast became an ever-changing gallery. I’m not entirely certain what I was aiming for or if I was trying to seek out a part of me that was secretly a talented artist, but what I stumbled upon was a haven where I could just be for a few hours at a time.
It was what I liked to call ” learning to be patient”. A beginners class of sorts in how not to be in a rush, something which I struggle with every day. There is something inherently magic about creating art, it’s a lost period of time. Time lost to time. A painting cannot be rushed. It is built. Built layer upon layer. The artist steps back and returns again and again.
While painting has become this sacred space for me, it’s not always peaceful. It also forces me to face some of the most challenging parts of myself. As a perfectionist, I want everything I do to be incredible the moment I begin with zero room for learning. That said, painting has given me the opportunity to wrestle with the frustration that comes up for me when things don’t go my way on the canvas. I suppose my therapist would point out that I’m not just like that when I’m painting… but it gives me a safe place to explore what it is in me that wants everything to march to my timeline and why I feel the need to be immediately good at things. The frustration I feel when what’s in front of me isn’t the masterpiece I envisioned has taught me to take note of that feeling and step back rather than forcing what isn’t.
Recently, I went out and bought some giant canvases that gave me the physical space to allow my body to move the paint. Sweeping arm gestures with brushes; it almost became a dance. Having the space to move in new ways is marvellous…of course, it helps that I’m into abstract art! I’m still coming to terms with the fact that my god-given skill in life isn’t replicating life in art. If anything I’ve been gifted the ability to emote into art and that’s good too.
Several months back I wrote a poem, inspired by all my favourite artists, I’d like to share with you…
The artist mixes her paint, sets down the dishes of colour in front of the canvas
and waits for something to rise up from within.
The brush, soaked in thick paint, hangs over the blankness, poised
for the flick of the wrist that will signify the beginning.
Sometimes you simply have to start,
though the movement might not be quite what was expected, a curve struck
across strands of fabric woven tightly in straight lines.
A bridge, one she could never burn, takes her beyond a pond decorated with water lilies.
From a distant table top, goldfish watch every bright brush stroke mark the surface,
every few moments a new memory,
and she is painting flowers across her chest
while the night sky dances, the stars drawing her in like blackholes filled
with the light of every sun.
Like silk scarves from the sleeve of a magician,
the art spills out from her soul,