I can’t write all this without giving credit to the Source. Whatever you want to call it, God, the universe, the ground of being, something higher… I know that I could not infuse my paintings with anything “nourishing” if I had not first been nourished myself. And for that I go to the Source. There, all the lights and the colours are flowing in and out of the spectrum that my limited eyes can see. It is indescribably beautiful and just a glimpse of it makes me laugh at the impossibility of trying to capture even a fraction of it with paint on canvas. But yet, the impossibility is not daunting, just funny as I realise how small everything I do is. Somehow that brings a lightness; I can but try.
Also, I’m discovering that at the Source, we are all connected somehow. So as well stoping to still my mind, breathe in, look and listen, I find that if I ask how I can make painting that somehow resonates with just what the person commissioning it needs, I can get a pretty good idea, which has been surprising for both of us! I’m still practicing, I don’t always find it easy to stop and take the time to listen properly or to carry out what I think I should do, but I’m honoured to feel my work has encouraged some people this year.
This year I have been developing an idea with much encouragement from a good friend of mine.
Sitting on her rug one day I was pontificating on the concept of the social role of the artist. Is it possible for an artist to do the good work of contributing to a community or to other individuals when we spend the majority of our time alone in our studios? Sure, we can do workshops in community halls and schools, but that is not really what I was talking about.
This contribution is something I feel is important for all of us but could not really see how I was ‘giving something back’ in my own life. I was beginning to descend into a spiral of self deprecation when she stopped my in my tracks and pointed to the wall.
There hangs a painting I made for her when we were both going through a bit of a tough patch. I was inspired by her colours and I wanted to use them to create a painting that would bring her hope.
Sitting there on the rug, I remembered just how touched she’d been when she realised this had been made for her. Then I, in turn, was deeply moved when she explained how, to this day, the painting encourages her and reminds her that there is a way though the toughest situations. (You can read the full story from her point of view here.)
I’m grateful to have such friends who remind me that what I do every day does actually have an impact outside of the studio. Following that conversation my ears pricked up every time someone tells me that my work brings them joy, or that it is nourishing.
So, I’ve been practicing on a few other unsuspecting clients this year. When I’ve been asked to make a commission, as well as considering the colours and composition, I try to get a sense of how the person who has commissioned the painting is doing in life and what I might be able to paint for them to encourage them.
Here’s to friends with comfy rugs and hearts filled with wisdom!
You can find out more about the Healing Paintings process here.