("Empathy" the above painting is now owned by a treasured Collector)
Yes, it was 6 words said at the perfect time in the life of this artist that changed trajectory and set my feet on a path that changed my art process and purpose from that day forward.
I don't believe there is any single person who hasn't been touched by deep pain. I tend to call this a "this side of Heaven" issue.
Let's face it, we were created for a perfect garden, this world can be very painful.
Pain is inevitable. There is an ever growing list. Variations of pain inducing events and acts seem to be invented daily. Sadly, this is a human thing that we share. Whether we are experiencing it ourselves or hearing that someone is experiencing, it's a commonality that we cannot deny. How depressing a statement, but wait...
Let me go back to June of 2020.
After painting for over 30 years, I wanted to go deeper. Even though, I'd had a bit of success, had sold many paintings, received honors, and had been blessed to have been instructing and leading others in their creative pursuits, I felt like what was in my vision and my spirit, I was not at all equipped to bring forth.
I signed up for a year long art mastery program that took me back to the basics of drawing, oil painting, mixed media, acrylic painting and finding my voice. Parts of this program were actually painful for me and brought me to tears. It required a humbling and an acknowledgement that my past pain was actually getting in the way. It wasn't past, it was in my present and affecting my future as an artist who deeply desired to make an impact with my art.
That pain had me stuck, stopping me from taking risks and moving forward. I had allowed it to define me more than I was aware of. It was literally the unspoken part of my artist statement and I hated it and, to be honest, I hated parts of myself.
I came very close to quitting and resigned to myself that I was just meant to make pretty things, but that left my heart feeling unfulfilled and, truly, I knew better. I knew there was more. So I pressed on as they say.
One day, during a session on finding your voice ( a powerful lecture in the program), the instructor (Artist Elli Milan), said these powerful words...
"PAINT THE OPPOSITE OF YOUR PAIN"
These 6 powerful words changed everything!
I always felt that I needed my version of full healing and health in order to create works that were worthy and met the high calling I've felt on my life. It was a lie that kept me stranded in limiting thoughts and a defining attitude.
The sharpness of pain that results from abuse, neglect, betrayal, unwise decisions, and just life on this side of Heaven can subside but, in my experience doesn't really go away. It rears it's ugly head in the most inconvenient moments and now, I have a battle plan.....I can use it and flip the script.
When the pain comes, the memories flood in, and it threatens to stop what I've been called to do; When it attempts to remind me of a version of myself that isn't worthy to create works that can encourage and lift up others, I take those thoughts captive and submit it to the truth.
The enemy of our souls is a liar and will use everything to halt us in our tracks. Here's the good news...He is defeated!
Pain is what it is. It's a realistic, inevitable part of life, but what we put out there as creatives has the power to show up in opposition and bring a new perspective that allows a vision of hope, healing, and health to a world who is in desperate need.
Whatever you do on the daily, this applies. Live and Speak in opposition to the Pain.
Fear? paint Freedom....Ugliness?, Paint Beauty....Loneliness?, Paint belonging....
Paint it, Speak it......This is life giving, not just to us, but to others.
So now, approach with boldness and know that creating works that speak life over others is a worthy pursuit. From vision, the first mark on the canvas, through the process, to completion, oppose the lie which is the residue left by pain.
Part 2 will go a bit deeper. There is so much more to be said.