Several years back, there was a group of us that gathered in the Lounge after class each week. One of our group had these lovely positive message cards - symbolism of animals. We would each draw one from the pack and read it to the table. One of our group regularly pulled the swan. I’d like to think I remember the message of the swan because I simply heard it so often but I think there is something more to my remembering. “Don’t give up, give over.” When I first read those words “give over” I had no clue what they meant. Most messages related to surrender, like “go with the flow” or “be with what is” and “give over” were lost to me. I had no relationship with these words. They were not something that was taught to me in childhood so my adult body/mind was clueless. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I started playing with what surrender wasn’t, that I started to get somewhere. I know what surrender is not - controlling, resisting, pushing, grasping and pulling. So that is where I began. When I came upon the “what it isn’t practice” it was like a light went on. I had real life, tactile experience now to sense. I had a relationship with all of those other words. So, I would often ask myself; “Am I pushing? Am I pulling? Am I grasping? etc. And then stop and then listen. Often, if the answer was yes, there was accompanying tension - tight jaw, tense belly, hard eyes and a voice saying “yes, but…”.
So why am I writing about this, at this time? Well, I received a lovely virus that wreaked havoc on my throat, ears and eyes. Twelve days later, I am just now starting to feel I am on level ground again. I have not been sick like this, for such a long period of time, in a very long time. I thought I would be out of practice (with being sick) and totally miserable and stressed. I wasn’t. I stayed even keeled and level headed, for the majority of the time. Yes, I felt woozy, uncomfortable, and I was in pain some of the time. But I never dropped into a depression, got irrationally irritable or felt hopeless. I cannot be 100% certain, but I suspect it had to do with making a commitment, when the first signs of sore throat appeared, to surrender. I consumed herbs, foods and drugs that would ease my discomfort and support my health, I rested a lot, BUT I didn’t do those things with pushing, pulling, or controlling in mind - “this has to work!”. I simply did what was available to me and then surrendered to the process of being sick and of healing. When I felt impatience arise, I reminded myself to soften into it. When fear of health, finances, etc arose, I asked myself, “what do I gain by stressing out?”. When the searing pain in my ears came on, I relaxed my face and got curious about the sensation I was feeling - experiencing them instead of resisting them.
Ok, buckle up!
I am grateful (yup, grateful!) for this slow-to-heal-multi-faceted “thing” so that I had a chance to really, really practice surrender. To do what I could in the moment and then to give over and simply “be with/experience” what is.
So, as I do when i share musings, I offer up some questions:
If something is here, right now, and you cannot do anything to change it, can you allow it to be? Can you see or feel precious energy being used up as you resist what is?
Can you see/feel the excess mental and physical tension being created and held as you hold onto what isn’t?
Ah-ha! So I had originally attempted to post this musing several weeks ago but I was having technical difficulties so I put it aside. Today I decided to try again. And the “ah ha” is due to my response when I read the title of this musing “Why do I paint uncertainty?!” It seems that almost everything is turning itself sideways and upside down and many things are spinning seemingly out of control this week. So this is the perfect time to reconnect with these words.
The Off-Kilter Bird from my previous posting, has tipped over. I am sure all of her chakras are off centre. So again, I have answered my own question, simply by “talking about Uncertainty”. I paint it because it is everywhere, all the time. And when it is in FULL ON mode, it is raw and uncomfortable and terribly noticeable. So that means there is lots to draw from, the well is never empty.
Before I continue here, I’d like to share a variation of
“The Creative Process” with you.
1. This is cool
2. This is tricky
3. This sucks
4. I suck
5. This is tricky
6. This is cool
Uncertainty is a tricky thing. If I paint certainty, I can never really know where a painting is going to go. And that is all fine and dandy until I get stuck on or in step # 3 or #4 of the creative process listed above. If I allow myself to stay stuck in the mud, or lost in the dark hole of 3 or 4, a painting will never get finished. So I have to stop when I feel it coming on. Sometimes, simply acknowledging it is enough. Most of the time, I need to stop and think back to some of my really tricky paintings and remember ALL the steps of the painting process. I remind myself that I did experience, “this sucks” and “I suck” and then I got through it and (here is the important part) - I ONLY FOCUS on the paintings that were completed and that felt completed a.k.a. successful. If I focus on the paintings that just never survived to the end, I will never paint again. Yes, they happen. I have gesso-ed over many canvases. It just happens sometimes. But I can’t think about those do-overs while I am in “hell” or it’ll just pull me in deeper.
So I paint uncertainty to make friends with it, to lean into it, to get all covered in it so I can really know it and so i don’t run away and hide. Uncertainty is a monster. And I need to stare that monster straight in the eyes and let her know i'm the boss.
What do I see? This is the question I pose to myself after creating one of my doodle mandalas. I work with symbolism. I look for meaning. I usually end up finding more questions - some unanswered.
So, what do I see? I see a bird-like creature. It is off-kilter - maybe about to tip over? Perhaps about to take flight? Back wings extended for balance, front wings held in tight - protecting the soft belly? Probably. Head full of blue and green cotton candy.
I see the 7 chakras - though the 2nd one is not in alignment with the rest, but we’ll get to that in its turn.
(1st to 7th, bottom to top)
- Root chakra - red, shaped like an upturned bowl, blue and orange pies, feels heavy, solid. “Turned to the earth”
- Sacral chakra - where it is supposed to be, is a grey void. Orange chakra is way up in the “head” of this “bird”. It must have been spinning pretty fast to loose itself from the ‘body’. What are you doing up there? Did you just need a change of scenery? The Sacral Chakra represents the very centre of ‘you’ (your true self). Have I been attempting to be in my truth or find my true self via my mind - intellectual striving instead of gut instincts or intuition. I’ll let this inquiry float around in the ether and see what comes out.
- Solar Plexus chakra - yellow circle with a triangular hat. Green, blue and orange ’pies’ in there too. This feels like the Solar Plexus is a receiver of info from other chakras. Intuition. Will power.
- Heart chakra - green spiral with wiggly arms radiating outward. Alive. Radiant.
- Throat chakra - big, eye-shaped, waves of blue with a bit of green and yellow in there. The word “truth” underneath. Speak my truth, from the heart, trust my gut.
- Third Eye chakra - purple circle with scope lines. Zero in on your truth, listen to your wisdom.
- Crown Chakra - big, multi-coloured (or all colours together to create pure white light). Many petals radiating outward. “That’s quite a fancy crown you’ve got there!”
What do you see?
So today, May 12th, is World Collage Day! How exciting!
A whole day dedicated to the art of cutting and pasting!
Are you participating in some way?
If you like collage, check out this site: kolaj magazine
And the best part? It is Canadian!
happy cutting and pasting!
I just spent a good 20 minutes writing a post and then i accidentally hit the close button and 95% of what i did was lost. Sigh. I was on a role with my writing and had some lovely insights - in the moment. I wasn't expecting these insights to come along so i went with the flow. In other words, i did not write these insights in my book or in a separate word document, just in case. And poof. My words are gone. My insights lost. Sigh. I need to take a moment and feel the loss. So often i "put on my big girl pants" or "suck it up" or "get over it" instead of taking a moment to actually feel the loss. So, it sucks. It feels icky. Heavy and thick. And there is sadness. Yes, even for something as small as that posting was. "Lean into it", Let it be". And i feel a little lighter. So i now i will walk away and do something else and see if the insights will come back. And if not, trust they were only meant for my eyes, in that moment. And, maybe, just maybe, this is the post that is supposed to be here today.
I forgot how much work it is to get a show up
and running. There are so many little details!
-press release - check
-do all paintings have hanging wire - not quite
-labels for all pieces - not yet
-all pieces signed - check
-price list - check
-collage display - still in the testing stages!
-business cards - sort of
There are so many little steps before some of the
items are even half completed. Try this, test it, fail.
Try that, bugger it up, fail. Try this, discover
missing pieces, search house for compatible
item, fail. Go to hardware store, try again, fail.
Try something else, test it, Success!
i am humbled. i am also becoming an expert at how not to do so many things!
From afar, the surround looks quite dark.
Is the object emerging or being engulfed?
can't tell - push pull.
Maybe it is being held in stasis.
When you get closer you see there is much more to it.
Details that you couldn't have discovered at a distance
show themselves - scratching, swirling and pulsing.
Then, add light and suddenly it changes - alive and rich.
Even more is visible.
Exciting, maybe even electric.
I am creative in a lot of ways. Mostly, i paint and collage. I work with these in 2 ways - Fine Art and Expressive/Process Art (a.k.a. Art Therapy). For a few years i have been attempting to blend the 2. The following write up is from a recent uncomfortable experiment.
Let the colours speak. Let the form decide.
Keep leaning into uncomfortable.
It will always be a work in progress.
It may never be seen by another human being -
or at least not at this stage.
But that is not the point.
I keep imagining myself showing this piece to
another person - glaaak!
Good! Work with that feeling of horror and disgust! Use it! Paint it!
And every once in a while i begin to think "i kind of like this" but i ask that thought to leave so that i can stay with "uncomfortable" and get her onto the canvas.