Monday, May 4, 2009

Experimental, without the mental

It's really hard not to think when you're painting. It's also hard not to worry, especially if there's a deadline or a specific goal or client or a shrinking budget or basically, *ANYTHING* to worry about. No one suffers like worriers, because we get so incredibly professional about it.

I've spent a lot of effort for several years to lose as many worries as I could, and I have to say, I enjoy my life a lot more than I used to. Practicing meditation made the biggest difference, and finding out that thinking, and therefore worrying, can be shut off. You do have to learn how, and you do have to work at it, but it can be done.

Painting abstracts turned out to be a major training ground for me, for learning to not think. Robert Burridge is a great teacher for not thinking. It turned out that my creativity did not depend at all on thinking, any more than it depends on brushes. The thought process is just another tool you can pick up and use, or put down and go forward without. It turned out that "things come to me" as soon as I start working. I can stand over a piece of paper waiting for an idea for hours, or I can start moving. As soon as I reach for a color, the right color "comes to me". As soon as I start cutting or shaping a mask, the right shape "comes to me". Without thinking. I don't have to think "There's yellow and red and blue, and green and purple and orange...", I just grab for one or two or three, and there they are.

Some ink, some wet paper and masks, and pretty soon I have a background, like this:

So now I've got a recognizable shape on a background, what next? I know, I'll worry about it for a while. Hmm, pretty nice colors, how many different ways can I ruin this? What if it doesn't turn out any good? Can I turn it into mud? It's a multi-colored horse—who's going to be interested in this? What was I thinking? What is this hang-up on horses? Why did he turn out green? Who ever thinks of green horses? Was there ever a My Little Pony who's green? I doubt it.

Okay, let's be bold. Let's try something I haven't tried before. I'll import the photo into Photoshop and play with it. I like to scribble, I'll just scribble on it. I can do that without thinking, and I might even stop worrying. For a little while, at least.

Oooooo, look what happens when I throw some red & yellow lines on there, ooooo I like that. Suddenly he doesn't look like a My Little Pony any more, he looks like a dream or a phantom, or something electric. I like scribbling. Let me try it with the other background I made:

becomes this:

Ahhhh, that felt good, those pinks and reds and blues and greens. Lots of energy going on there, lots of play. Energies in the people, activity and life. Thoughts and feelings, pulses and emotions. Visual imaginings, not anything I ever saw, but something I could feel, something inside me. Did I think it up? Nope. Did I do it anyway? Yep.

And so the little old painter translated her computer scribbles into pastel drawing on the ink backgrounds, matted them and took them to the gallery (without taking photos of them, duh), and went back to her studio where she worried happily ever after. THE END.

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