Originally, I think I’ll be painting a goddess woman with a skirt but I’ve painted strong legs. They demand being seen.
I think the mid section might be a mandala but as I lounge on my bed for a break I gaze at the painting ( my art studio is also my bedroom ) and suddenly see a box with an open lid where the vagina would be. I imagine a trap door releasing butterflies, angels or something.
I get off my bed and toddle over to the picture and begin painting more on the legs. I am not sure if they will remain loose or get detailed. I’m surprised by how stiff acrylic is – difficult to use after tempera but I love it – the freedom of adding layers, which totally obscure what’s beneath, delights me. And that delight arrives after years and years of adoring watercolor for precisely the opposite reason…I love its transparency and rarely use them opaquely.
I begin the head today – ask myself how my own head is feeling as our teacher, Connie, had instructed. I’m reaching for heaven but not sure I can stretch that far! I know I need both brain hemispheres to be alive, active, whole and well. I know the right hemisphere is a garden and the left is the cosmos. Geometric, sacred shapes I use a lot – cross, circle, triangle, spiral and square appear. Both hemispheres are fertile, changing, metamorphosing. They meet in the center. The face is looking off to the right. I don’t know why.
The next day, I begin by painting but oh my god, I am filled with too much anxiety over needing to prepare for the art tour and to move and with worry about my car which collided with a deer last week. My belly is disquieted/rumbling/uneasy. I know it’s nerves. I am not sick. I quit painting in order to pack and return to the image in the evening. The painting process takes me. I see a fist for the right hand and paint it in but know it probably won’t stay. The angle of the head has been telling me I need to have a hand that is holding something: a ball? a crystal gazing globe? Now I think it may be the moon because the face seems to glow with moonlight, not sun.
Instead of a box where the vagina would be, I suddenly know I have to paint the archway that mesmerized me in an English folly – the vagina becomes a portal. A path from my ancestral landscape has to fall out of that portal and lead down to the planet where my feet currently stand. As I write this sitting in front of the image, I see how the mystery of the universe can be embedded between the red stripes above the portal. Those red ribbons are so potent for me and I don’t know why but I know I must honor them and keep them in the painting. Those red ribbons contain the mystery.
And I’m struck as I write this for you now how painting this way engages my entire being. There is no right, no wrong, no technique, no mistake nor striving to reach a goal, just painting in response to what the painting shows me, wants from me, ignites in me. I don’t question, I just engage. And isn’t that a grand analogy for living fully?