Saturday, February 26, 2011

There Are Always Openings To Be Near My Own Discomfort & Desire

As part of a workshop I am doing I am spending a lot of time exploring the artistic process. I have become increasingly aware of the struggle involved in the process and my inability to manage it in some way that feels skillful or graceful.

I have also been hearing the call to work in other ways as well as "buddha images". There has been some inner nudging to work in more abstract form and so this is part of my exploration these days. Going off in new directions can be difficult ground to cover, like going off to kindergarten for the first time. Where do I hang my coat and who will play with me at recess?

One thing that has followed me around the studio, in a harassing kind of way is my judgmental mind (excuse me officer, I'd like to file an harassment complaint against my mind).
As part of my exploration I am learning to be more patient and kind as I work. I am building new mind habits, slogging my way out of the old neural cow paths. There are so many elements of this process that are like any aspect of working with the mind, doing good solid mind training.

First I have to wake up to the process and see clearly when I am heading down the well worn trail of self judgment and frustration. Once I wake up and see this, instead of just rushing headlong down that tangled path, and getting scratched and torn in the brambles, I can stop. If I don't stop, what I have learned is that a paint brush and frustration = a mucky, contorted mess. Pretty simple equation.

I have decided that my painting, my canvas is like a living being and deserves the same kind of consideration I might offer to other living beings. I need to ask it what it needs and then I need to wait until it answers. Then I proceed as best I can with kindness and care as I attempt to deliver what it needs (I'm like the milkman, excuse me painting was that chocolate milk? one quart or two?) Sometimes I get the order wrong but I don't have to get (all pissy about it, as my daughter would say). If I am careful I can go whoops, I just gave you a litre of sour milk and some cottage cheese, let me take that back, it's not lookin so good on you)

And so the process continues. I have been following my heart in choosing materials. I love little bits of words from magazines and books, vintage sewing patterns and flat, matte paint. Gesso and conte crayons are calling to me, as are lots of texture and bits of old fabric. I just explore putting them all together. And I am enjoying working in simple neutrals as I explore form. It seems if I put colour on hold I can focus better on form.

I am having this delicious time mixing licorice blacks and smokey greys and whip cream whites. I have been using text as form but also discovered I can apply words so they retain some of their quirky entertaining meaning which is a joy to me.

I don't think you can see the words on this canvas so here's a little sample of how I have been entertaining the canvas with words. Under the circle it reads "Later, I ran into reality and invited him to dinner. There are always openings to be near my own discomfort and desire, no matter where."

In the upper left framing a square the text reads: "Brace yourself, this is where you get to see we all have grace sometimes." To the side of this the text reads: "Everyone has amazing talent which is just covered up while eating ice cream. Regardless of the journey every movement has depth and wings"

And if you start in the upper left of the circle you can follow the story around: "what can you imagine on a park bench by a river. Every word has a world behind it. I catch a glimpse of make believe. Eyes are tricky. It was like seeing the hand which would hold the secret unable to be kept anymore. Walls painted with dreams and intention , life without coincidence had never seemed important to me until that moment."

So that's the bedtime story, kids, stream of consciousness painting. I'm calling it "Every picture tells a story." I'm just learning how to listen


  1. Oooo, Carole! Love this! May I put it on my tumblr page?

  2. for sure, Jann. It's the new look for the other one you liked! Thanks!

  3. Carole, what wonderful discoveries! I am excited for you!

    I love this: "my canvas is like a living being...asking what it needs and wait for the answer." Hearing about you following the inner compass of your heart is inspiring and encourages me to do the same. And love those phrases that you are putting together. They resonate and tickle this heart too :) Quotable quotes for my refrigerator :)

    There is a line from a Cirque du Soleil show that says: "I see a spark of light shining - Alegria! (which means Joy). Yes, I do, I see that spark shining - JOY! :)Bows and Hugs C

  4. "excuse me officer, I'd like to file an harassment complaint against my mind"

    I burst out loud laughing at that one. Me too!!!!

  5. Not much to share beyond gratitude. This post was a life saver today. Thank you, Carole.

  6. MeANderi - Thanks as always for keeping me company on my journey! Yes, some joy! I am learning about this too.

    Leslie - Perhaps they would pay attention if we filed that complaint together?

    108- Gratitude, nice to share, almost as nice as lifesavers. I used to like the butterscotch ones!

  7. An inspiring and opening piece! Thank you ... Blessings!

  8. I can relate to the feeling of self-judgment as you try something that is new for you. I'm in a similar process with my writing. Trying to find my authentic voice - which really means opening myself up to my own vulnerabilities - can be a challenging process. But the discoveries along the way make the whole thing worthwhile. I love the result of your work!

  9. I think you are doing quite well in your artistic journey - we are hardest on ourselves- that inner critic just won't be quiet sometimes- but that questioning and doubt is good too as it keeps you growing.. I love your abstract piece with the large circle.

  10. Thanks, Darla!

    Spirit- yes, working enough and exploring deeply and allowing that vulnerability to surface and just be are so important in the artistic process. And then finding a way to silence or calm that impatient inner critic, those seem to be the keys. And experiencing the joy of it all! Happy wordsmithing to you!

    layers- Thanks. Of course those are always meaningful words from an artist whose work I love. And I am realizing (as I become less impatient with myself) that doubt as a gentle questioner can be a good thing.

  11. Am thoroughly enjoying your blog, and your playful philosophy on life, and art. A simple palette, with the additions of carefully selected 'treasures' is very appealing to me (with my cluttered and frenetic mind). Hope it rubs off.

  12. Thanks for stopping by Jo! It is a process, a journey, isn't it? I am so enjoying the process of listening for my authentic voice! Lovely to have your company on the journey!