This is my latest painting.
I titled it "Let Nature Give You The Answers."
Before we begin let me add a shameful disclaimer for the quality of the images. Aside from trying to take photos with messy, paint covered hands while painting in the studio, the light, this week, has been gloomy. We have spent the better part of the week cloaked in an unbearable "penumbre". What follows are photos that I took on the fly, but thought might help to tell the story. This post, then, is an explanation of how I began using Flora's process, and then how my thought process and my intuition took over, making my own process take hold.
So let's get to this.
The canvas was, again, a big one at 4'x4'. It all started out good and well. Flora's process of letting go on the canvas is so freeing, just so unbelievably connected to the way we did art as children, that it is now difficult to imagine starting a painting session without first letting go, watching the lusciousness of the color have it's way on the canvas.
The really dark rectangles you see on the above photo are actually pieces of fabric. When I was setting up my canvas on the easel, I could see that there was the tiniest little pinhole in the canvas. I didn't take two seconds to fret about it - I knew that the tiny pinhole had to be a direct result of all the house moving we have done whereby I have schlepped my canvases and art supplies from state to state in what would appear to be a never ending conveyor belt of moving from one house, turned into a home, to another house, a mere collection of walls, windows, and doors that needs to be turned into, once again, another home. In a former life, I am quite certain that I was a pack mule, and a very good one at that. A tiny pinhole? A minor incident compared to making friends and then having to leave them when I move again.
I gessoed the fabric onto the canvas with Liquitex Clear Gesso. There was only one tiny pinhole, but I decided to fly with it and added several large pieces of fabric. (A note to all fellow "Bloomers" out there - this fabric added to the canvas thing requires further investigation and play.)
On with Flora's process which I now just call FUN, because it is no longer a struggle to "let go."
It does get a bit messy.
But the results can't appear without the mess. With every stroke of the the brush, my hands, the bubble wrap, or whatever I use, there is absolute magic appearing before my very eyes. Layers and layers of magic that would be impossible to reproduce methodically.
On one video this week, Flora held her hands up to the canvas, cupping her hands around different sections of her canvas to more clearly "see what was working" and then it hit me like a bolt of lightening. I actually got a sensation of being taken over, occupied, if you will. I have been waiting - more patiently some days than others, trying to figure out how to express something I experience regularly. Seeing Flora cup her hands up to the canvas gave me the answer I have been hoping for.
As most of you know, I live on a mountain, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by endless nature.
From every window, all I see is nauture. Even from my downstairs studio, I see the path that takes me on my hikes.
In good weather and in bad, I go hiking. I have endless trails at my disposal. When I am hiking, my brain is in "full operation" mode, completely engaged. As my eyes jump from one visual delight to the next, the thoughts in my brain not only keep pace with the ever changing view, but at times, most times, they actually out run what is before my eyes. My brain is flooded with images, both real and imagined. Creativity seems to pump through my entire system. I have always wanted to express that sensation - of images popping up out of nowhere while I am hiking - in a painting.
I decided to take Flora's words quite literally and I "framed out" the best parts on my canvas that were bursting in imagery, just like my thoughts while I am hiking.
Then I proceeded to isolate them completely.
This was tough. Isolating the shapes was a whole lot more complicated than I imagined at the onset of this journey ... and I must add very un-Flora like. I wished for a masking fluid type product like they use for watercolor painting. I had none. If there is one and you know about it, I would be superduper nice to you, forever, if you shared the name of it with me.
This is the point where I really had to have a a little chat with myself. Literally. It sounds kind of crazy, but there was an internal battle going on in my head between voices that were telling me to "flow-Flora-free", and other voices to put Flora's method on a holding pattern and accept the gift of a vision that I had been given. "Paint the painting", "do it now", "you have been waiting for a way to paint the creativity that flows during your hikes". This conversation lagged for days as I meticulously covered the non-saved parts of the canvas surface.
And then I had to suffer through a major bout of:
"AND NOW WHAT?"
How on earth am I supposed to go from here? I hate to confess this, but in the spirit of sharing, I will. What did I do next? I grabbed a spoon and a jar of Nutela and sat in front of my canvas. Chocolate - my go to answer.
Two or three spoonfuls later, I put the Nutella down, and pulled out my sketch book.
This is the point where the art was created.
The rest is history - the rest of the work was done in the service of the canvas.
Like a massive submarine coming to the surface, I would come up for air to make a meal, grab another load of laundry, answer the door, or vacuum a few more square feet in an effort to maintain normalacy for the rest of the members that share the living space under this roof with me.
Every time I would plunge back down to the studio, it felt like the bubbles of air rippled up my arms as I my feet barely touched the treads on the stairs. I would leave the lights on in my studio, just so the painting would welcome my return ... as if it had to forgive me for leaving it.
At this point I hit a fork in the road. I wanted the trees to be pink. Yes pink. But I also wanted the trees to be a quiet element in the image. The idea of pink had to be put aside for another canvas, the word "quiet" was stronger. Sometimes it is as easy as stopping to listen.
So I needed to make them brown. How? What do trees look like? I know what trees look like, but I had to actually go out there in the woods and stare at them for a bit. If anybody had been driving by they would have seen a woman, standing in the middle of a forest, in her painting clothes, paintcovered apron, little red shoes, and paintbrush in hand, getting up close, standing nose to "nose", with a tree trunk. I ran back to the studio to paint what I saw... but I failed. I started to paint what I had seen, but quickly realized that the road I was on was the wrong one.
Out came gobs of white paint... and so did a few little words that mommies shouldn't say.
I kept going and going, painting and painting, hoping that I wouldn't, by accident, cover up one of my "thought shapes."
As you can see, I totally bagged the idea of making the bark look like what was outside my window.
And now it is finished - it has vacated it's turf on the easel and temporarily is next to my bed.
The last painting I showed you, here, is already on to another life. It has since been sold at an auction to benefit children in my area ... I can't think of a better place for it to "bloom" forth. This new painting, I will hold on to for a bit, even though I realize it is now no more than one more mile marker on my journey. I know that others will get their own meaning from it that might have nothing to do with my thoughts. For now, though, I want to relish in the thought that I have paid Nature back by acknowledging how many answers she has provided for me.
"Let Nature Give You The Answers" - it is a good tip, see where it takes you.