Today I share and express creations from my past, and in this process, have the opportunity to release my hold on the unfinished, the imperfect. I carry “perfectionist” traits within my personality. This has not served me well. There’s always a feeling that the dance movement isn’t right, the painting isn’t good enough. I should be more spiritually conscious, meditate more, do more yoga. The list is endless if I allowed it to be. This perfectionist trait is a form of competition, not with others, but within myself. It is a stifling energy. Why should I be so hard on myself?
And so, as an exercise in letting go, I am sharing my old art work. I’m not going to wait until I achieve the standard I hold for myself. Goodbye to the “perfectionist” within. As I open the doors to share and express the old and “unfinished,” I make room for new growth and expression. It is my hope to begin to paint imagery inspired by the healing work I do. That is on my To Do list this lifetime, but in the meantime, I offer a glimpse into my past artistic journey.
I have dabbled in painting throughout the years and have enjoyed the experience. Many paintings are simply exercises in learning how to paint. Some are sitting unfinished, probably to live out their days as such. I first began painting while living in Los Angeles, back in 1990. An artist had a studio located on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, CA. I don’t even recall her name. There was no formal class. I would just show up to paint and she would periodically guide me along. My first assignment was to copy other paintings. I’d get tips along the way as to how to make clouds or water. I explored painting from photographs, using grid lines, turning the images upside down. Some I completed, others, not. I also began painting with friends at our pseudo “book club” gathering. This was a time of exploring color, paint and textures. No formal training, just painting for fun.
From there I began taking drawing, design, painting and photography from a community college. My interest in art had grown. I was inspired to develop my portfolio to apply to the Pasadena Art School. I painted in a tiny loft, up some steep steps off my apartment bedroom. It was a unique space, I must say. I must have been pregnant with my first child, as I recall switching over to acrylic paint as to avoid the toxins used in oil painting. One assignment was to have an item out of place within a landscape. The other was to create a collage out of magazine images and then paint a portion of our findings.
Anyone that has taken a beginning drawing class, or has read, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, is probably familiar with the exercises in sketching your shoes, drawing Einstein or Picasso’s Stravinsky upside down. I practiced by sketching whatever was around me. I even sketched while at work on the television show, Baywatch. Pretty much the same water dispenser you’d find in any office.
I’ve attempted to sketch images from dreams I had. Described in more detail in an earlier post was the dream of walking through a darkened tree tunnel with the ground a mixture of mud and dead body parts. In another, I dreamt of my deceased friend, Michelle, in which I felt her presence enter my body. She had profound advice as to how to live in fulfillment, but, unfortunately I don’t recall that part. Lastly, while I was happily pregnant with my first child, I accompanied a friend in support of her decision to have an abortion. That proved to cause some inner turmoil for me as evidenced by my dream that followed. Though I’ve always called it my “abortion dream,” it illustrates an imbalanced relationship of the masculine exuding power over the feminine. There is a lack of empowerment of these faceless women as they line up en mass to have the life sucked out of them with the male hand controlling the master power switch. Hmmm… the subconscious expressing through dreams?
I never did go to Pasadena Art School. During the informational interview process, I was told that many marriages didn’t make it through the art school experience, as it can be quite demanding on one’s time. Perhaps it would have been a good test of our marriage; but certainly, trying to raise a child while pursuing art school would have been a challenge. My husband was a writer in the Hollywood entertainment industry. In my experience, this industry does not support a healthy family balance. It seemed as though making a television show was as important as brain surgery, regarding one’s availability, time and commitment. To succeed in that field, career definitely came first. I adjusted my life accordingly and focused on raising my children.
Jump to eight years later, now living in Minnesota, my kids were old enough to go to school. I had some time to myself. I again took up painting at a community art center. Lots of still life experience. No longer pregnant, I could go back to using oil paints. I enjoyed determining compositions and exploring the use of color and paint. Thanks to that experience, I have an archive of “practice paintings.” What am I to do with them? Does anyone need a Lemon/Shell painting? What about “Gourd in a Room” or “Oranges and Bags Among Rocks?” And I considered these works “completed.” What about the “unfinished” ones?
I still have a huge canvas of “unfinished business” from an earlier time in life. I began a painting that was to represent each member of my family; husband, kids, pets, me, to be hung on our living room wall. As life would have it, I became separated, on a path towards divorce. No longer a “happy” family of four, I decided I could transform the painting. I could honor the past, bless it, and then start anew. I had classmates from my healing class write on the back of the canvas as a ceremonial blessing. The canvas now sits in such a state.
Another unfinished piece that I’d ideally like to complete, honors my mentor, Michael Tamura. He has, by medical standards, died three times within his current life. I felt moved to create an image of the resurrecting Phoenix. In honor of Michael’s ability to be in amusement much of the time, I thought it’d be comical to give the phoenix a human, Michael Tamura head. Obviously, the face needs work, but in the meantime, enjoy Michael’s photo shopped face as you glimpse at the unfinished “Michael’s Resurrection” pastel sketches.
“Michael’s Resurrection” was an attempt to move away from the structure of painting from a still life as it sits in view. But how can one paint from just imagination? In exploration, I began a class in Hauschka Therapeutic Painting. Donna Webb lead a Hauschka painting class, exploring “wet on wet” watercolor (water color applied to a wet paper). This is an exercise in painting without form or lines whatsoever. Colors interact and as a result we begin to discover imagery and emotion as it presents itself to us. We may then choose to bring out the subtle forms we perceive within or leave the painting undefined. Coinciding with my class in Hauschka, I played with oil pastels, celebrating color itself.
Most recently, I’ve been exploring charcoal drawing and veil painting, (using water colors), based on the work of Liane Collot d’Herbois. In this form, healing merges with art, as both the charcoal and veil paintings correlate to our experience as human beings within the body. The focus is to understand the natural laws of light, color and darkness. The light relating to our incarnation as spirit within the body. The darkness being the peace, the silent forces of love that supports life and creativity within. One cannot exist without the other when manifesting as spirit within a body here on earth. In this art practice we are able to explore the thinking, feeling and willing aspects of being human as revealed within art. With an understanding of the quality and movement of color and darkness, one can use this in therapeutic applications for mental, emotional and even physical well being. Yet, there is pure joy in making art for the sake of art, not necessarily to be used in a therapeutic context. There is much freedom in playing with colors as they interact with each other between the veils. Due to the transparency of color within the veils, this painting method can emit a more spiritual and ethereal quality. Within the charcoal, I have discovered hidden faces as I try to achieve the natural balance of how darkness interacts with light. Once in a while, I’ve broken the rules for fun.
So, there we have it. The back story of my artistic journey. I will continue on my path to express through art. Whether or not I can step up my artistic skills to represent the beautiful imagery within my consciousness has yet to be seen. I’m sure my process will include inner dialogues with the perfectionist within. In this moment in time, I am choosing to play with color and movement. May I express in the non-judgmental, kindergarten space, to begin anew. I shall try to embrace my “imperfections” and find joy and acceptance within. May you also be at peace in loving acceptance of your beautiful self, imperfections and all!