I spent 4 hours wrestling with this beast of a painting last night. It’s a beast because it’s large 20 x 20”, and it’s a beast because it was created on heavy, cradled (maple) wood board. It was also a beast because it fought me with a snarl, tooth and nail. You likely wouldn’t think it, considering it now looks like an abstract version of a cotton candy unicorn; so light and fluffy and colourful, but that is a bit of a metaphor for my life anyway: I usually end a bloody war in ‘the light’ so to speak. I’m rarely ‘just light’ though without having sat with ‘the dark’ for a while, you just don’t always see it.
I’ve been struggling over the past 3 to 4 months or so on many levels, the inner, the outer, the greater, the smaller. The macro, the micro, the personal, the social. It’s all been weighing me down and raising so many questions. I’m also on the up/down rollercoaster of emotions: one moment I feel positive about the future of ‘things’, other moments I crumble and fall apart at the smallest of inconveniences and it connects me to a neglected grief that’s been patiently waiting for me with a sad smile. As much as I know that grief is a friend; I rarely look directly at her. I might, after all, turn into stone or ashes and hardening up or falling apart is not an option right now.
Last night, while painting, I watched a film called ‘Interstellar’ and it’s about humans trying to find another planet to live on as Earth is dying in this film. And at some point, someone said something that included the word ‘mankind’. As the word was uttered, it caught me unexpected; I froze and inhaled a choking breath as if the word ‘mankind’ was caught in my throat like a fly in a spider’s web or like a hot piece of coal and I started to sob, deeply. Like heaving, dramatic sobs. The love I feel for ‘mankind’ (as fucked up as it is) washed over me and I cried for all that’s been, all that’s happened, all that’s happening right now and all that’s to come. Grief managed to make me look at her for a second there after all. Sneaky.
Back to this beast of a painting. I’ve been painting a lot of abstracts lately. For years I’ve flirted with abstracts and struggled, but the flirting has turned into full on committed marriage now and I can’t let go. I’m a tiny bit obsessed.
Painting abstract is much harder than figurative art though. You can’t rely on imagery to convey a message, you are much more reliant on using colour effectively, contrast, composition, movement, rhythm etc. There is a depth of poetry, mystery and mysticism in abstract that can be really hard to grasp. I believe much of the qualities of abstract art live in the right, emotional, relational parts of the brain. People with trauma (like me) have a tendency to be more left-brained, more logical, more problem-solving than relational and it’s taken me years to open the door to the metaphors of the mystery of being alive. Since I’ve been doing work with the remarkable Sarah Peyton (trauma work with a focus on empathic resonance and the brain), my brain is a much safer place to live in and access to the beauty of metaphor, poetry and relationality is more readily available to me now.
I think I feel called to explore abstract more now because I am healing the numbed, oppressed and violated parts of me. Something cold is melting away and allowing for something new to grow. It feels like a change, transformation or an evolution of some sorts.
But, it is beastly work! Hard and treacherous is the road of healing, evolving, facing the dark (and grief!). I’ll keep wrangling with it all.
Thanks for reading a somewhat longer art/ life musing, in an almost blog-like format. It flowed spontaneously out of my fingers today. I’ve been wanting to share more intimately with people online for some time now but have not found it that safe and less easy over the past 4/5 years. I used to blog 2/3 times a day many years ago and loved it. Jumping back into a mini blog format feels comfortable and safe somehow. Thanks for reading. I appreciate you. Oh and hope you like the painting! I love it! It was created over several layers of other paintings finished off with amazingly creamy and beautiful oil pastels by Sennelier! They are like butter!
If you want to buy this painting or a replica thereof pls email Tam on [email protected]