I take painting lessons every Monday. I always wanted to take painting lessons and finally I’m doing so. I’m taking the introductory course to intuitive painting. You learn how to hold your brush, how to mix colors… In general, you learn how the techniques work. The technical instruction is very little. The real focus goes on the encouragement to express yourself on the page. In the last sessions, we have been working with one color per session. We have been following the order of the colors of the chakra system: red, orange, yellow, green, etc.
Unfortunately, I missed the first session of this kind. I missed red. Red is my favorite color. To catch up some previous class I missed, I joined today the Wednesday group. They are a more advance group. They receive even less instruction: they just paint. I was very intimidated when I enter the atelier and saw what they were doing. Everyone was very quiet minding their own business. One painted horizontally, one vertically, one acrylic, the other pastel… It was a great party of creative women.
I was very happy because I had a very productive morning before getting there. My instructions for the day were to start with some charcoal making lines: all kinds of lines, horizontal, vertical, from the right, from the left, in different angels.. The idea was to try it all, to experiment, to see how each one felt. I enjoyed the music I started creating with each stroke. It was like little symphony of charcoal on my previously white paper.
After the charcoal, I would start painting red on a white piece of paper. I kept repeating the same movements of the lines: up and down, left and right, in and out… I created one layer of the painting and another one and another and another one… At some point I looked back I felt really finished. I was satisfied. I don’t know how I did it. I just did it. When I checked how I felt, I felt curiosity, desire to explore, to do, to try. I didn’t have a drop of self criticism or self doubt.
I finished my first painting of the day, I could paint a second one. I had the option to do a second red painting or to go to blue. I felt I needed some more red. I chose to go for red. This time I told myself, I want to do something different, something beautiful, something special. My mind took me back to the fact that I was sharing the room with the real professionals, with the advance class. I got self-conscious of my poor painting ability. I stop trusting, I started thinking, I started “strategizing”. I started thinking about Mars, the red planet. So circles of different sizes appeared on my page. I thought it looked childish. I added some lines. I thought it was silly. I added some more acrylic drops to give it a 3D effect. I thought it was ugly. I looked and found a piece of fabric on the paper, on the lovely vibrant red. I wanted to take it out with the spatula. I created some line and some extra acrylic where it was not intended. I took a step back. This last movement was the only authentic movement, the rest was a series of calculated “wanna be good” “wanna impress people” mind controlled movements. The 5 minutes call from the teacher was heard. I needed to stop. I needed an hour to disconnect from my silly mind and reconnect from my own knowing.
My first painting was effortless, simple and at the end I was satisfied with it. My second painting was a struggle. My mind kept attacking my work. My ego wanted to be appreciated by the rest of the world. I wanted to be seen by the group was capable, as one of them.
After we all finished, we sat down to see our work and to talk about it. I started. I told them all. I told them how I felt in both scenarios. They identified with me. They shared that this happens to them quite often. This is a known struggle. Wow! Suddenly I was one of them! I was one of them! Showing fragility brought me not only to my own humanity, but also closer to the people that I felt so alien before.
They shared their experience with their own creations. “Coincidentally” we all exploded in the second painting. We all attempted to do something greater than our first trial. You could actually see in all paintings the beginning and the after. You could see how we all based our second painting on something we liked of the first one. We all were so similar in our expression of our individuality. I never felt so connected so quickly with others.
Wow! I never imagined that my investment in materializing my dream to paint would bring so many extra gifts. The lesson has so many levels of learning to me. It talks about the desire of belonging, the fear of rejection, the kindness of the world, the power of fragility and authenticity, the danger of perfectionism…
The angle that was more meaningful, more touching to me was how my mind was preventing me from getting into the flow. My ideas, my rational mind, prevented me from just doing what I was meant to create. The great news about it is that you cannot get it wrong. Even if that second painting was not of my immediate liking, it is an expression of myself. Embracing what I created is liberating and humbling. It was not wrong. It was what I could do at that moment. It gave me humility and humanity. I brought me closer to myself and connected me with the group. Don’t call bad, the good things that happen to you. Don’t criticize your own work. Embrace it. Embrace it all, even what you name “mistakes”. They are just a step in the process of life.
You cannot get it wrong!
The painting studio where I experienced this is the one of Daniella Rubinovitz. She’s a joy to work with. She is the most delightful combination of hard business skills and art therapy together with infinite kindness and patient wisdom. AND she also happens to paint!
You can find out more about her work here:
Image by Blanca Vergara