“Just say what you want to say . . . and say it with all your heart.”Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
I couldn’t sleep Saturday night and normally I’d toss and turn. I’d consider getting up and going out to the studio but, up to last night, talked myself out of such foolish notions. I finally asked myself “Why not?”
I’ve been wanting to play with a more abstract style, looking at Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards. I felt the call to follow my heart, said yes and went outside to play.
Outside to Play
I put a sweatshirt on over my pj’s and just after midnight, crossed the yard to unlock the studio. Lights were on across the street but the rest of the neighbourhood was dark and silent. There’s something magical about being the only one up when everyone else is asleep.
With the studio curtains drawn against the dark the space felt more private and protected than during daylight hours. I may do this more often because I liked it. A lot.
I pulled one of the largest canvases out of my stash, selected some bright, acrylic colours that went well with each other and two of my biggest mop brushes. My habit is to use small brushes for the fine details I usually do but they would never do here. Those big ones would keep me from getting too precious with it.
Dancing in the Dark
The abstract art I’ve been looking at on social media attracts me because of the joy I see in them. I especially love the ones with pure colour. That’s where I would start.
I mixed up some darks and lights for value differences but that was about all I did as far as colour planning went. I was aiming for fast and loose painting and no thinking – just feeling my way through the painting. That’s a very different way for me to work.
At first I brushed in a linear fashion and then suddenly I felt the urge to ‘swoop’. Delighted with the result, my brush danced around the canvas. Colours blended in some places and stayed pure in others. I balanced light and dark but that was about the only ‘rule’ I followed. By 1 a.m. I had the basic background done. I didn’t want to overdo it so I headed back to my bed and fell asleep.
I’ve always been concerned about disturbing my husband but the next morning when I checked in with him, he didn’t even know I’d been gone. (So there you go. The things we think we know aren’t always true.) I couldn’t wait to get back out to the studio to see if I was still happy with what I’d done so far.
My heart said “YES” so I mixed up some pinks and yellows and other colours that felt bright and fresh to me. Then, as I approached the canvas, it suddenly felt precious. I didn’t want to ruin it which is always a bad sign.
I put down the brush and went back to social media for some inspiration. I needed to see what kind of marks appealed to me. I looked at some of the artists I’ve been admiring such as Betty Franks and Andrea Garvey. That gave me some ‘vocabulary’ and a starting point. After that brief wobble, I had at it and enjoyed painting without a net.
Like words can be formed into poetry, prose or song, the language of art can be used in so many ways. I’m still learning how to express who I am through my brush.
I just realized it was Beltane when I woke up, a time of fertile magic. Perhaps that was what called me out of my bed and into the studio. Whatever it was, I’m grateful.