Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton
More and more I am realizing that the gap between art and life is very fine. There are many established truths about life that can also be proven with art and vice versa.
As an artist, I sometimes realize mid-painting that I am experiencing a breakthrough. It happens subtly and suddenly. Without warning, a shift happens. It’s hard to describe and even if it’s not exactly evident in the work, it is groundbreaking for the artist.
That happened to me with this most recent painting of mine.
Usually when I start a new painting, especially a commissioned piece, I spend a lot of time planning. I create many sketches before I start. Sometimes this is good but other times I find that I spend too much time thinking and re-thinking, planning and re-planning, guessing and second-guessing.
When I teach my art journaling workshops, I talk emphatically about art that is authentic, art that comes from deep within. I explain that to get to that kind of art we must stay loose and fluid. We must not spend too much time up in our head, but rather, create from instinct.
I explain how to notice your internal inclinations. I explain how not to judge those inclinations. I explain how to follow your heart’s lead and how nothing is an accident.
As I was about to start a new painting the other day, I realized that I HAVE NOT been following my own advice.
So I decided to make this new painting without a plan.
I started by splashing many different colors of paint on the canvas. I added newpaper and other types of collage when I felt like it. I used fiber paste to create texture… just because. I stayed completely loose and let my instincts tell me what to do next. I trusted myself. It was an exhilarating experience.
I used paint and paper and fiber paste and markers and glaze. Once I was finished, I felt happier with this painting than I had with a painting in a long time.
I think this same approach can be followed in life. Staying loose, staying fluid, following our instincts, trusting our intuition. Life will throw curve balls, it always does.
In my workshops, I will often come around and squirt some random paint on my unsuspecting attendee’s page. I call it a love bomb. I do this because I want them to be able to roll with the unexpected. The beauty of a love bomb is that you don’t see it coming but you have to make it work.
Just like in life.
Love bombs hit us all the time. They catch us off guard. The best thing we can do is trust ourselves. Sometimes we’ll find the outcome better than the one we had planned.