i’ve been working a lot on letting go lately.
letting go of the past, of control, of outcomes. in both life and art.
i’m happier than i was. there’s more peace and love and connection. i rail less against the things that have happened, that can’t be changed. it’s time to set aside hurt, anger and blame, and create space for those other qualities that i’ve always coveted instead.
this push and pull of old habits vs new has been evident in my art during the last few weeks. very much so in my most recent painting, the deer girl that some of you may have seen on my instagram and facebook accounts. i shared in-progress photos of her as she emerged on the canvas. the end result was this serene, ethereal, gentle creature, in a style that i believe might actually be my own (oh happy day!)
what i didn’t show you, was the before.
the before was messy and clumsy, forced and frustrating.
she started well, the october project in suzi blu’s ongoing patreon subscription.
we were grooving, these fluid, flowing inks and i. but then, ugh, something went so very wrong for us.
she sat upon my easel and taunted me. i refused to trash her. instead i forced myself to make eye contact with her every day. knowing that something was off, i would take photos with my phone and study the painting from this new vantage point.
time and again i went back to her with my mantra “trust the process” and changed something. i made the neck slimmer, longer, shorter, wider, i dropped the shoulders, raised the shoulders, gave her boobs (then even bigger boobs – wtf?) and still i couldn’t make her work.
the other problem? i was trying too hard to paint suzi’s girl. suzi’s, not mine.
i rarely take the step-by-step approach in classes anymore but i was working on a larger scale than i’m used to, with unfamiliar media, in a new way and somewhere along the way i lost my confidence and began to feel vulnerable – “i can’t show this shit on social media, people will think i’m rubbish and unworthy and…” oh shut up. i went into damage control – and in this case that looked like me pausing the lesson videos every few minutes and trying to replicate what was before me.
brene brown calls this ‘making the uncertain certain.’
and i should know by now that it doesn’t work for me.
i finally admitted to myself that the problem was the face. the face that i’d lovingly crafted for an hour or more with coloured pencil, the foundation of the whole piece, was too big for the canvas and i needed to admit the obvious and let it go.
when the realisation hit me that it was time to give my girl a facelift, i felt a tangible shift.
i grabbed my sander and went to town on the canvas before i could change my mind. i wish i’d taken a photo of that moment when i brutally erased hours of work with a power tool, because it felt like a pivotal moment for me and you guys would have been a little horrified 😉
the second face was small and sweet. i took out my journal and got to know my inks between its pages and realised they made terrific organic dreadlocks and antlers. and as i flicked through instagram, an image popped up on my explore feed of a woman wearing antlers and doe-ish makeup.
this was serendipitous.
and the process of painting this time was a completely different experience. i had a sense that if i allowed space for grace and ease, i would find the way through.
it sounds a little bit ‘woo’ when i write that now but i’m ok with that.
i’m letting go.