I am enthralled with the unexpected thrill of painting from my heart and belly rather than my head.
A week later I return to the happy muddy muddle I began last week and find it unexpectedly difficult to resume. I use phone calls, a dog walk, vacuuming and a few other distractions to procrastinate just a bit longer but finally I light a candle and smudge, get a snack and sit down on the floor in front of the painting while I munch and feel myself back into the colors and forms. I feel the call of finger painting again and know the beginning point is to add more dark. As I began last week, I pour out purple, blue and black tempera paint and go to work, first with a big brush and then my hands. I keep alternating between brush and hands. Suddenly red needs to be there, then the light colors again.
Finger painting becomes hand painting. Suddenly I feel my “handcestors” coursing through me and anger surges up for all the generations of alienation from my primal and indigenous origins. I begin slapping my hands on the wall and at one point I press my two hands really hard into the wall with all my might, loving how the wall resists and actively seems to push back at me. Tears pour. I’m in the grip of huge anguish and yet there is room for rational thought and the thought is this: I wish someone were photographing this! I know my posture totally illustrates the pain, agony and anger of being separated from my primal ground since being born into this modern/urban/suburban/civilized/cultured and sterilized life.
According to neuroscientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, emotion races through our body so fast that anger, for instance, only lasts 90 seconds max… neurologically that is. When we feel anger for days, years, hours, it is our thoughts doing that to us, not the emotion itself. So as quickly as my anger surfaces, it flies away.
Then I want to pound my hands on the cave wall of my bedroom and yell, “I am here, I am here, I am here.”
Those words race toward the thought: I want to make my mark on this world before I leave it.
Now I know I have made a difference in many peoples’ lives, I know that, but there is so much more I can/could do if I had more clarity, grit, daring…I feel this DEEP painting pulling me into my next era of service to the world and I am filled with gratitude.
AND then the bottom of the painting calls and suddenly I have to delineate the whisper of arcs laid down from the first session. Voila, concentric half circles begin appearing. When I step back, I can see a salmon rising from the pool of wisdom. I wonder, now, will it still look like that to me by the time I paint again. Only the painting and my connection to the painting process will reveal the next step on this journey and I LOVE THE NOT KNOWING WHAT WILL COME NEXT.
Deborah, you have the most beautiful way of bringing the intricacies of this process to words. I adore your fire for life!
Thank you thank you, Hali. You spark my sparks, you know!! I am so happy to be able to relive this DEEP painting all over again. The image is an important one for me and I love how it morphed and yet everything is included from start to finish – a lot like our lives. We embody all that we have experienced and that’s what makes us US. love you
Dearest Deborah, This reminds me so much of a dream/experience I had some years ago so I am compelled to share a poem that came from that experience. I hope you can feel the similarity: Reaching For Something I know whispers in my dreams that have no sound but I can feel their truths like a silent wind. Small pieces culminate and then let go of one another; their finger tips aching on the rim of consciousness eventually loose their grasp and slip back down into the wordless eternal. Holding my thoughts still like statues I wait in anticipating anguish as if watching sincere salmon from a river bank while they fly and fall and fly and fall. So lend me your ball of thread, Ariadne, that I may stitch together golden words and passionate fishes may seed in lucid waters until another sleep brings whispers in my dreams.