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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Senses in Practice -- Paint

For those of you who weren't aware, I'm taking an online expressive art class called AROUSE from Hali Karla at LilyWheel Slide Studio. Because, of course, I want to protect the integrity of the class, I will not share the course content with you. However, I do want to share my thoughts and work and process as I go along for a variety of reasons, but mostly to assist me in promoting my own awareness.

I should say, first, that I haven't had a paintbrush in my hand to do free-painting in many, many years. Actually, I believe the last time I painted anything other than walls and stencils was in my early 20s. I'm not sure why that is, but I believe that I abandoned the activity, along with lots of other pleasurable pursuits, in the process of raising kids, working two or three jobs, and going back to school. And, there was also that small voice in my head that said I wasn't good enough, so why bother. I'd be less than truthful if I didn't include that fact. So, needless to say, this was an entirely newly remembered experience.

In truth, my paintings of early years were often done in the middle of the night, with an intensity that was almost out of control -- a desperate need to complete whatever thing was coming out of my head. Paint was never my favorite artistic medium. I preferred charcoal and chalk pastels -- things that I could blend and use directly with my hands, move and smudge and bring to action. But, when I did paint, I painted BIG. On huge canvases that took up walls, those were my preferences. I wanted room to play with paint. THAT was the experience that I'd forgotten and the one that came home to me in vivid color, today.

As I worked my way through the first set of exercises, which included writing prompts and experiential activities designed to awaken sensation and awareness, I was struck by the most wonderful thing: PEACE. I felt completely at ease. I didn't worry about what was going to be, whether my thoughts differed from other people's, or if I'd remember how to blend paint. Nothing mattered. I just breathed, and wrote, and experienced, and (for all practical purposes) played.

And, guess what? I didn't forget how to blend paint, or how to choose my brush, or how to position an easel or a foam board. I remembered. I didn't forget how to layer color, or how to be simple, or how to add texture. 
I learned a few new things, too. Its my preference to paint unencumbered. For those of you who need me to be direct, I mean unclothed...or, as close as possible to it (obviously, I can't be parading around the yard Au naturale, since I live in town and have neighbors who would likely call the police once they got past their initial shock). But, when I put that brush in my hand, my immediately response was to find my clothing annoying.

The other thing that struck me: painting is a sensual, joyous experience. I was well aware of the aromas of the paint, the feel of the brush tips against the board, me swaying while considering and angling for the next step. I found my eyes closed as often as open, and lilting music playing in my head. For a second, I regretted not putting music on to play, but then I realized that I'd have been deprived of the sense of my own rhythm that felt quite right.

Let me say this with unequivocal consideration: it doesn't matter how the final product looks. I needn't create perfection or something that looks like a copy of a natural object. That wasn't what was intended, nor what is important. What I loved most of all about today: the EXPERIENCE. It was clean and lingering and sensual and pleasurable and joyful. It put me in touch with ME. And, I have my own voice, my own song, my own vision.

So do you! What is YOUR Where do you hide them? How do you free them?


Blessed be!


  1. Today, I received the Sunshine Blogger Award. One of the conditions of this award is to pass it on to others (Great idea, right!) and so I have chosen your blog as I really look forward to reading and following it. And, I really wanted to show my appreciation to you for bringing both you and your blog into my life. If you are not into awards, please ignore this, otherwise, to see my post, use this link ~
    I hope that you will accept this award in the spirit with which it is passed on to you ~ with friendship and best wishes!
    Brightest Blessings always,

    1. Kim! Wow. Thank you! I'm so amazingly touched. I will absolutely participate.
      Bright Blessings!

  2. I'm very interested in this online class.....I'm looking into it!

    I didn't even know you had a blog! I'm enjoying it so far.

    1. Hi ! Thank you. The class is awesome. If you're curious about it, also check out the Art of Prayer group on FB. I started out reading Hali's blog and got hooked quick! The supplies are very inexpensive (as is the class) and the experience is AWESOME.

      And, thanks :)

  3. Michele - i love every bit of this. And especially how in being open to listening to yourself, you are OPENING further into the beauty of your own rhythm and discovery. the experiences are just the gateway, and i can sense that you get that. i'm super happy you have picked up a brush again, too - even if just for a time, to lead you deeper into your creative self. (oh - and i totally have to paint barefoot... something about that for me!) ;-)

    1. Hali, in all truth, YOU are my gateway. Had I not found your blog, I wouldn't have gotten here. :) Synchronicity, I'm sure :)