I have had an interesting realization lately. I do not enjoy the experience of abstract painting or what some people have termed intuitive painting. I am not an artist that enjoys playing with art mediums just to see what comes from it. I don’t enjoy purchasing the newest art supplies to see what they can do. Art meet-ups where the purpose is solely to have fun and explore, aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t like the nonchalant approach of, “let’s see where this goes.”
Subconsciously, I’ve believed this to be a character flaw. I need to loosen up. I need to be free. I need to behave like a child and simply play and not care about the outcomes.
You know what though? Kids actually do care. I’ve been teaching them all year now and a lot of them REALLY care about what comes out of their minds, hearts and hands. Now it is true that many of them are brilliantly adaptable. They are willing to roll with their mistakes, learn from their first attempts and develop skills along the way, but they aren’t necessarily haphazardly playing. In large part their play is purposeful, thought out, instigated. They know why they are dumping water into the watercolor pan - “because the colours aren’t coming out well enough!” even if they don’t know that dumping water in can ruin their paints. They know why they are mixing all the colors together, because “look, I can make a brand new colour I didn’t have before! I made brown!” even if they don’t know that now they don’t have all the colors to use because they only have brown. Their play is often taking them somewhere they intentionally believed they wanted to go.
My frustration with abstract painting is that where I intentionally want to go is somewhere very specific. I want to become better at seeing the details of my life, drawing them, and adding colour to my drawings. Heather, a Secret Message Society Member I’ve connected with on-line, called her artistic style “rendering the things in semi-accuracy.” I love this expression. This is what I want to be able to do, and I want to get better and better at it.
So when I was sub-consciously circumventing where I knew I wanted to be headed as an artist and telling my mind to quit caring so much, quit trying to figure it out and just paint what I feel, well, it felt a lot like I was shooting myself in the foot.
I am very fond of curiosity. I call it following the White Rabbit. My artistic direction of and vision for the Secret Message Society is precisely because my brain WANTS to figure out how to draw better and how to paint better. So if I keep telling my mind, “Just be happy with who you are. Just be easy on yourself. Don’t think so much about palette or where you’re headed or what tools you prefer. Just use the first brush you grab. Use the leftover paint in your palette. Use a scrap piece of paper and go with the flow,” I am prohibiting my curiosity.
Maybe this is part of my embodiment because I am deeply enjoying staying in my life so much. I want to portray my actual life in my art very solidly and concretely. I want to say this precise tangible thing in front of me, like this daisy in an empty vanilla bottle, is meaningful and here is how, and then I want to draw the daisies. To mimic their curves. To see the way they actually take up physical space. To somehow show the glass as rather shiny and the ordinary moment as extraordinary. And that’s just not going to happen with any old brush, any old paper and any old leftover paint. It matters too much to me. My brain wants to investigate something solid. My soul wants that too. My soul wants to let my brain help it out. I’m not a divided entity. I am whole and I do want “some common horse-sense along with the strengthening of the soul.”
I am not afraid to know things, and to want more knowledge so as to know more things. What is my living without a continual expansion of knowledge? My soul finds it necessary and deems it worthy.