working with ease.

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.

grace.

flow.

forgiveness.

ease.

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.

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we were grooving, these fluid, flowing inks and i. but then, ugh, something went so very wrong for us.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 softening.

i’m letting go.

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this is the day i started to howl

i struggled to the surface and whispered good morning to a house whose rooms were empty and was grateful that last night i’d had the foresight to make overnight oats loaded with plump berries and shredded coconut and i’m on trend because my breakfast is made of superfoods,

because i really couldn’t be bothered to tend to my needs beyond a cup of tea.

that first eyes-closed sip always promises peace and bliss if only for the time it takes to swallow.

and as i pulled my tank top over my head i spied the cross that serves as a bullet-proof vest upon my fair skin, jesus at my shoulder for eternity, even when i don’t feel him.

i harvested vegetables that i did not have a hand in bringing to life. i’m afraid to taste them in case i plucked them from the plant too early. i am clueless in such matters. and they felt prickly, which put me off further and so instead of a fresh salad, lunch was nothing more than tipping cereal into a bowl with a splash of soy milk, and i did go back for seconds, not because i was still hungry but because i forgot to take a photo. i ate the second bowl anyway.

happy mail from daniel smith.

no, daniel smith happy mail from senior art. because sometimes i have to paint watercolours on crazy thin paper, and the only way around it is to make that paper toothy, and i will hopefully never buy the crazy thin paper journal to document my life ever again but i probably will because sometimes i just want the thing that everybody else has even if it’s not what i need.

and oh, botticelli, i love your work, but i’m afraid to paint you. i keep finding excuses to stay away and when i glimpse your roughly sketched out madonna, i flinch with guilt and back out of the room with the stealth of a disguised criatura (which is a word i stumbled across whilst reading about wild women).

and i thought it might be nice to pursue my wildish nature beyond a jesus-god sunset.

because i cannot be without it a minute longer.

i should probably start with the botticelli.

Photo and words for Full Circle workshop with Misty Mawn.

And me.

Botticelli painting in progress for Studying Under the Masters with Jeanne Oliver (Botticelli lesson by Jenny Wentworth).