When I paint I seem to enter an eternal present, a place where time and space drop away and I am fully alive and participating in the moment. It's as if I can feel all the molecules around me and in me vibrating together. If I stop to notice this I break the spell, it's like trying to grasp onto a memory or a dream fragment that is just at the edge of your consciousness. The minute you look at it directly it dissipates.
And so it is that I must enter the studio and leave my "thinking brain" behind...this is hard cause I like thinking, I am very attached to thinking. I am a curious cat and attracted to ideas and thoughts like a moth to a candle. However the practice of painting teaches me more about what I need to know in the present moment. My conscious mind may think I need to learn about a certain idea or concept but my painting brain absorbs and filters those ideas into non verbal expressions of a stronger, deeper vein. It is my unconscious mind that mines the depths for hidden jewels or as yet undiscovered truths. As I descend into this unknown place I experience a plethora of unexpected emotions; grief, sadness, anger, angst, loss and I allow myself to feel them all, fully. Staying with these feelings is often difficult and
scary but always worthwhile as they weave their way into the paint and transmute themselves into universal stories of colour and texture.
I have been reading a remarkable book, The Scatterlings by Dr. Martin Shaw, a gifted writer, storyteller and teacher of the living myth. He speaks of the creative process like this:
"In the doing of the thing--the dance, the translation (the painting)--something unexpected happens that takes you far nearer to the spirit of the art than you could ever access in the cautious transcript. You may--just may--taste the awen, the living energy that stands behind the form."
"Wildness is a form of sophistication, because it carries within it true knowledge of our place in the world. It doesn’t exclude civilization but prowls through it, knowing when to attend to the needs of the committee and when to drink from the moonlit lake. It will wear a suit when it has to, but refuses to clip its talons or whiskers. Its sensing-nature is not afraid of emotion: the old stories are full of grief forests and triumphant returns, banquets and bridges of thorns. Myth tells us that the full gamut of feeling is to be experienced. Wildness is the capacity to go into joy, sorrow, and anger fully and stay there for as long as needed, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Sometimes, as Lorca says, it means “get down on all fours for twenty centuries and eat the grasses of the cemeteries. ” Wildness carries sobriety as well as exuberance, and has allowed loss to mark its face."
~Dr. Martin Shaw