A month or two ago, I did an artist talk and painting demonstration at a gallery. It was really a wonderful experience for me. There was a rather large audience, and they were very attentive and asked a lot of questions. Having that input really helped me to better understand my own process. For years, I have mostly painted alone, or with fellow artists who were also absorbed in their own individual process. What a decadent treat to have so many eyes focused on my creative process!
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my daughter recorded a short clip of my talk on her phone. Watching it, it dawned on me that I had never seen myself paint before. From the outside, I mean. I watched that clip over and over, and for that minute and a half, I was able to be an objective viewer, detached from the process.
Today I had the opportunity to paint for two people, and in that more intimate setting, the demonstration was far more conversational and focused.
When asked a question, one has the chance to verbalize a response, and it causes you to consider something about yourself that is subconscious or simply taken for granted.
I hadn’t really noticed that I use and reuse paper plates as my palate, and that in the process, a quintessentially disposable item is transformed into an impermeable surface.
The simplest acts can be spiritual lessons.
During the process of layering paint on a canvas, stages of beautiful “accidents” occur, only to be painted over as the image progresses. I was asked how I deal with that, and I compared painting to breathing. When we breathe, we oxygenate our blood so we can keep on living. In order to go on, one breath, no matter how fresh or fragrant, must end in order for the next life-giving cycle to begin. Every sentence you read here must have a period at the end so we can move on to the next thought. “It’s about letting go,” I said, admitting that this was a grandiose answer to the question. But it resonated with her, I could tell by her tears, and because later she told me so. Besides. Nothing is lost or “obliterated,” but built upon and/or transformed.
On a larger scale, this applies to our very lives. Why fear the inevitable? Death makes life itself precious. Now there’s a grandiose answer to a simple question about brushstrokes.