Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Just Paint Over Yourself Already!

This morning when my 3-year-old son asked me to join him in painting, I did not expect it to be such a profound experience. As I turned on the "appropriate music" for such a task, my son had already begun filling his white canvas with white paint. I silently judged him. In fact, most of his white paint had be depleted and his sweet eyes begged, "mommy, more please." It began as a bonding experience: matching brush strokes, exchanging ideas, and additional requests for "more white please, mommy." He began with Impressionistic textured short strokes, proceeded to slap the canvas like Jackson Pollock in frivolity before returning to long strokes that seemingly erased the madness. I sat there watching the freedom he gave himself, relishing in the joy he had in trusting his impulses.

The canvas I stared at, on the other hand, had been in my closet for nearly 6 months; untouched, unfinished, and unpolished by my inner critics voice. 

Still not happy after 2nd cover

My son's invitation this morning permitted me the freedom to release my chains, to silence those judges, and be present with him. I began to drift away into the story of my painting. I saw the transformation of colors, the corrections I wanted to make, and the additions. I became acutely aware of how the brushes and I were inseparable. 

In the long strokes I deleted away the worries and cares of the past year. I understood that while I could not go back and scrape the paint off, I could always restart. I looked at my canvas and acknowledged that not once, but twice had I painted over it. Originally it was a "lollipop style tree" done at a Paint Nite with friends. The first "I don't like that" came with the mountains and then the second one came with the background (See it above).  It reminded me that I always have the liberty to be gentle with myself and try again. In the colors that were muddled or ill-matched, I found the courage to search my color wheel and create what I saw in my mind. I am not bound by anyone's opinions. It reminded me that my mind is a powerful tool. I am in control of myself, my words, and reactions. I have the ability to create that which I think and believe. With the texture of my canvas, I found the freedom to express. As an amateur painter, I frequently am caught up with the do's and do not's of painting. In silencing those "rules," it has become easier to accept my paintings and myself. This allowed me to discover that I am the master of my own destiny and that I must accept responsibility for the actions I take and the consequence that are accompanied with them. 

Paintings can teach us a multitude about the artist, their period of life, and frame of mind when we spend time with their work. My final lesson I wish to share is about stepping back. I am in a love/loathe relationship with painting because it reminds me to step away from the details of life and breathe. At times, I must literally stand up and look at my painting, yet I feel like I do not have the luxury of stopping. But that is what painting has taught me. I am on no one's time but my own. It's a great testament to patience. 

It has taught me that I cannot see the beauty of the entire forest if I only look at the dried up creek bed.

My painting and this week's Torah portion ties in beautifully with the Jewish goal of preparation during Elul. This week's portion Ki Tavo extols that each time we are a recipient of something - a gift, a special token from a grandparent, are aware of our health/our life, a blessing from our Rebbe, our intelligence, a chance to restart, an intervention from the Divine- we should react as if it were our first time stepping into eretz Israel. Every moment we have is sacred, is precious and in remembering this we become grateful. Gratefulness cultivates v'hayah, joy, which continuously opens us to repeated blessings. Celebrate with fruit of the new season and bring it to your sukkah at the start of Sukkot. Or perhaps, take it to the forest and leave it there so you can give life to another. 

Ask yourself, what is beyond the painted line? What lies within the forest waiting just for me? How can I graciously verbalize my gratefulness to the Divine in my life. 

© DNKG 2015 Unknown Pathways
20x16 Acrylic on Canvas

© DNKG 2015 Paint Yourself Already

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