Friday, January 21, 2011

paint without a paintbrush

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." ~Pablo Picasso

I've mentioned before that I began life as a painter, but at some point during my adolescence I began to feel blocked and terrified of my paintbrush. I think I was drawn to painting in my youth, because I felt so free as I painted worlds on my canvas that looked better than my own real world. It was such a wonderful part of my life, and I have missed it incredibly but have not been able to return to it. At the same time, I've lost my ability to sketch and draw, which I loved equally. I never seemed to question whether or not I could draw or paint something in those younger days, it was just something I knew how to do. But, today I am filled with inhibition, self-criticism, and doubt when I even think about painting or drawing.

This all may sound silly or not make sense, one would think I could just decide to paint or draw again, suspend my judgement of myself and give it a try. But, I can't. I'm really at a loss as an artist when it comes to solving this problem. It seems to present itself as a psychological issue, but I honestly feel like I've lost the physical ability to do something, like losing the ability to tie your shoes or comb your hair. Except this is something I love to do. Or was it meant to be this way? Was I supposed to stop painting? Was it just a gateway for bigger and better ways to express myself?

About 7 years ago, I met this very interesting girl. She had piercings in places I would never have imagined were even pierce-able (for example, the back of her neck and inside of her wrists), she held parties at her house with the rule that each guest was only allowed to wear 6 inches of clothing (no, I did not attend), and she made money on eBay selling painted impressions of her breasts. And interestingly, she loved me.

After hearing this girls stories, and admiring her level of bizarreness and her ability to put it out there for all to see, I decided to try painting without a brush. I bought a few pieces of canvas and somehow, someway I was going to get some paint on them! I so badly wanted to paint and was sick of feeling held back. So I took out my paints, covered myself in them and attacked my canvas. I ended up throwing away those first pieces of body impressions, but I felt freer just in making them. And since then, I have made a few that I actually like. I think it's more the symbolism behind these pieces that I enjoy rather than the aesthetic beauty of them. Such an open, expressive spirit such as myself, that thrives on making art, simply could not bear the feeling of inhibition any longer. These pieces symbolize a release, an uninhibited expression, and a dedication to art in whatever form I am able to create it.

Here I am in a photographer's studio being photographed as I paint the canvas below (sorry, my husband would NOT appreciate me sharing the rest of these photos).

"Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings." ~George Tooker

I'm currently working on two pieces to put over my bed. One will feature an impression of my chest, and the other an impression of my husband's chest--a symbol of our hearts and our love. And I'd like to use a large canvas to paint impressions of both of our bodies, and someday add our children's impressions to it as well.

I'm not quite painting like I used to, but I find comfort in the fact that photography has picked up where my painting left off. Now I am able to capture the world and its beauty the way I see it, just as I used to do with my paint. Maybe this is the way it was meant to be for my artistic path. Maybe it's no coincidence that my favorite book as a child was a small book about Picasso and his different periods (of painting). I would study his colors, his style, his lack of concern for the ordinary....perhaps that is the way I was meant to paint rather than in the ordinary way I used to. At any rate, it's a good lesson: when you feel stuck or inhibited, let go of the way you think you should be doing something, and play, make mistakes, allow yourself to find a new way.

"I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No paint, no brush, no canvas. I just think about it."
~Stephen Wright

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