“Paint like you are in first grade and in silence. Look at other’s work but do not talk or evaluate,” were the last words of instruction spoken by Chris Zydel at our Workshop. I took her at her word and felt the excitement as I filled my tray with paints and hung a clean sheet of paper onto the easel board. I had chosen 3 brushes and found a smock.
I placed the widest brush into the paint well and touched the paper to begin. A large drip of blue paint chose gravity as its guide. Just like in first grade, I did not know how to control the paint or the brush. Oh well, we were to be directed by our intuition and I decided to turn my paper 90’ and make that blue line into a swirl of waves on the beach. I began painting the Pacific Ocean of our drive the 2,000 miles down the coast to this workshop adventure. It was the story of our trip, just like in first grade. The wind swept trees along the bluffs looked like a row of green hearts and that looked too contrived to me. I needed to learn more about mixing the colors and how the brush would connect to the paper; I began hiking into the experience.
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So Do It.” ~Kurt Vonnegut Via Chris Zydel
The brush made a nice dob of paint and if I pulled it down slightly I could get a wonderful shape which made the rain clouds explode across the top of the paper. The tiny brush connected the millions of Redwood needles that were beside the roadway and stuck to the bottoms of our shoes; still stuck in the floor mats of the car. I found satisfaction in the dob-pull stroke of the brush and changed to mix a pleasing purple tone that captured the rain to ocean sky. Chris came by to see how I was doing, and I said I was exploring the brush and color and finding a nice petal shape that was pleasing me, but I was done with this sheet of paper, I wanted to use this knowledge to start something new.
A pink petal shape emerged first but this was not the right color and I tried to make it more mauve. No, what was touching me was the purple color in the petal shape. It was lightening my spirit and I was as focused as in meditation, I reapplied the color and began again. I still wanted for a wee bit of green; thus achieved. I stood back and a fir tree cone was there before my eyes. Royal. Regal. And just what I wanted to say. Cones often are grown when the tree is dying or in distress; a signal of the creation of something new. Then I thought that brush stroke would make a fuchsia bloom and that appeared next. I could not figure out how to make the dancer’s skirt of the blossom, so I just kept painting fuchsias and cones. I needed yellow to add the pollen at the end of the stamen so added that to my tray. The warmth of the yellow flooded over me and into me, and yet, the picture was not complete until I added the dots of Redwood needles. I was happy and filled with joy. I knew my painting was about the seeds of change – as graceful and elegant as petals. Yes! I was calm, unburdened, happy, and filled with joy. It was enough.
“Every painting is a self-portrait” ~Chris Zydel
I am making so much change happen in my life; I can testify that doing something completely different to the usual can truly make the change happen. It was immersion into the self. A deep gift that I remember in the all of me.
What gift are you giving yourself this year? Will you hear your soul? Your heart voice? How will it touch you?
Chris Zydel’s Creative Juices Arts Studio is located in Oakland, California
The blog: http://creativejuicesarts.com/blog/
If you would like to see my partner’s painting experiences you can find them on the Biking Architect.