I spent all of last weekend surrounded by and immersed in a world of paint. Standing in front of blank pieces of white paper hung on the wall, I would wonder what color I felt needed to join the already-existing chorus of color.
Through the process of painting so intensively over two and a half days, I made many discoveries.
I discovered, for instance, that although I’d looked forward to the workshop as a much-needed break from focusing on ongoing family health issues, there was no escaping the present reality. I’d intended to recharge and maintain a positive outlook through the doing of art, so my first attempts were limited to painting only in bright colors; pink, bright green and yellow.
After a couple of hours of trying to create an abstractly pastoral scene, Annie approached me and, with an unmistakable in-your-face, cut-through-the-BS look that nearly knocked me breathless, she asked, what about your pain?
Although I had earlier explained why I was limited in my ability to lift heavy boxes and carry furniture, I never expected such a boomerang. Annie meant no harm – that was perfectly clear; her modus operandi was simply to question where my heart, soul and feet were really planted at that very moment, not where I might have fantasized being. That questioning shook me up a little, and I felt dizzy and even a bit angry when she walked away. So I just stood and stared ahead of me for a long while.
And I shed some tears. How dare she… I so badly wanted to get away from it all…
Only later, much later, did I understand what this process was all about. Annie wasn’t intentionally trying to drive me into a state of despair and sadness. What I learned was that by painting into and through all the pain I was feeling – physical and psychological, I could find a way out the other side.
Which is exactly what happened: The colors, the brush-strokes, the thick layers of paint, all began to reflect the deep-seated feelings welling up inside. One brush-stroke led to another, and before long, we were taping on another piece of paper so that I could expand further on the expression of a feeling that I’d painted in one corner or edge of a finished paper. Which then led to more and more scenes, none of which had been pre-planned in my mind. They just grew organically, originating from the choice of color or a mark that had spontaneously taken shape – and needed to ‘grow’ in another direction.
In hindsight, it was a secret garden that Annie (and Matt, painting-angels!) helped me plant for myself, a garden full of shapes, flowers, and amorphous and undefined, but organically-growing stuff borne of intuition. And I’m so grateful to them for adding yet another dimension to my capacity for healing. For now that I’ve been given a key, I can climb through that human-sized keyhole anytime I like to enter a place of creative expression and peace.
It wasn’t art therapy, nor an instructional painting class. Rather, it was more like a cathartic conduit for me to spill out my guts (so to speak) in a rainbow of colors. I invite you to do the same, because it will instill in you a greater ability to trust your intuition and whatever it is you are feeling at the very moment – so gather up all your courage and just put it out there.