I was recently asked to teach a painting workshop. With the re-opening of the Cline House Gallery, workshops are once again being offered. Of course, my original workshop was scheduled for two years ago….what can I say?
A fresh start. And as all of us emerge from our COVID cocoons, it is interesting to consider how we want to approach life. Much has changed, and much has not. The question for each of us to consider is, what do we want this new phase of life to offer us? I am not sure about you, but this government-imposed sabbatical has given me ample time to consider how I wish to live. What aspects of life do I wish to keep? What do I want to discard? What do I want to dive into?
Back to painting. One of the reasons I am facilitating this program is that I do things a bit differently. I texture my canvases with tissue paper and modge podge, I paint my backgrounds with a paint roller (a foam dollar store variety). I use various implements, including old credits cards, to add paint to the edges of the textured area. And I play with various other tools including sponges, toothbrushes, and anything unusual. In other words, every painting is an adventure.
As I dillydallied in my studio today, preparing canvases, I mused on how each canvas is a great metaphor for life and how, if we assumed this as a way to view life at the moment, each of us is presented with a fresh canvas. So let me walk you through my preparation process as it applies to canvases and life.
This highly unscientific approach to canvas preparation involves crumpling up sheets of tissue paper into tight balls, painting my canvas with modge podge (a type of white glue), unfurling the tissue paper and pressing it into the glue. The result is a canvas that has crinkles, wrinkles and surprises. I love the technique as I tend to be a very planful, structured painter. Texturing throws all plans out the window and makes way for happy surprises and mistakes.
So here is the question: what if you textured your life? What if you did not carry on as usual but shook things up a bit? Hummm, that would be interesting.
And if you were to texture your life what would the tissue paper and glue be? How about curiosity? Exploring new avenues and byways. Or adventure, wondering what if, what might happen if you approached things differently or tried something completely new? What if you pursued your joy rather than what you are currently doing? That implies asking yourself some important questions:
·What gives me joy?
·What lights me up?
·What am I doing when I lose all sense of time?
·What do I love engaging in?
·What inspires me? Who Inspires me?
·What would I choose to do if I had no fear of failure?
·What has been my lifelong dream?
I could continue. These are all the edges of that textured canvas that are worth exploring. If nothing else, I hope the Pandemic taught all of us that life can change in an instant. That everything we believed to be true, to be safe, to be life as usual, might not be. So the idea of texturizing your life really means, what are you waiting for, no more hesitating.
Painting with a Roller:
For me, painting with a roller is totally about being free and letting go of the reins. You dip the roller in two different paints, my favourite being thalo green and warm white, and you sweep across the canvas in arcs, creating effects that you simply cannot get with a paint brush. Bits of paint show up randomly, the happy accidents. At random you can throw in a third and forth colour after the original ones are dry. The effect is dimension and depth.
Oh, to paint life that way. With a roller rather than with paint brush number four. What does this look like? To me, the roller is intention, it is the naming of what you really truly want, who you are choosing to be at this time in your life, and putting it on the canvas. It is not about the details; it is about the broad strokes. The details will follow, just as they do on the canvas. So, consider:
·What do you want? (refrain from focusing on what you do not want; you will get that too!)
·Write it down.
·To get what you want, who are you being? List your ‘I AM’s. ( I am excited. I am inspired. I am joyfully embracing my life. I am healthy and whole. Life is an adventure).
·Once you get those broad stokes on your canvas, pay attention. Be prepared to be surprised regarding the patterns and colors that appear.
·Finally, when opportunities appear, pick up the brush and dive into the details.
Play with New Tools:
A paint brush will do, and yet picking up other utensils always pushes me further into the experiment. A credit card, lined with crimson red, lightly pulled across the canvas, picking up the edges of the textured paper. Paint spread thickly on a toothbrush and then sprayed on the canvas by pulling your thumb nail across the bristles. Paint flying everywhere (advice – do not do this in your dining room!). A sea sponge dabbing random splotches in one corner. And the opportunities to experiment continue.
Applying this to life, simply try something new. Digging the same hole, taking the same approach to life as you always have and expecting different results, is the definition of insanity. Nothing changes unless you do.
Create a Masterpiece
All this to say that life is a canvas, and each of you has an opportunity right now to begin fresh, using your curiosity and sense of adventure, being clear on what you want from life and putting in your order and employing new tools. Man, I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone creates, those masterpieces!
Until Next time,
Your thoughts and strategies are always welcome and if you care to share you can reach me at: [email protected]