“Painting does anything you ask it to..”
And it echoed…
I sat back in my seat. The creases of my eyes grew closer together as my head tilted slightly to the right.
“Wow, it really does,” I thought. “You actually have all of the control.”
My interpretation of this statement was deeper than what my professor anticipated to communicate with the class. He did not give it any attention, as he quickly moved onto another topic. Yet, something about it stuck with me. I thought, if painting did what you told it to, then it made a choice to listen to you. You set the intention and ignite something into a real, tangible form. You are essentially doing all of the work, but the connection you have with the paint assists your inner magic to explode.
As I started to create this theory, I imagined myself picking up my paintbrush and letting loose onto canvas. There was a certain level of control I felt. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I never put pressure on it. I set the tone, but made the energetic expression speak for itself. This vision resonated with me. I felt a sense of power.
When the lecture was over, our assignment was given to us. Our task was to balance warm and cool through dichotomy. I thought of certain color theories, but the contrast of red and blue was the one that resonated with me the most. The truth was, I never worked with red before. I always wondered what a painting would look like with such a bold color. Because I was moved by the professor’s initial statement, I made a choice to take a step into something new this day. I had the courage to turn from fear and to clear my mind. I wanted to allow my body to speak and my arm to dance. I wanted to flow. And without thought, I asked my painting to let me be free.
The way I painted this piece was through gesture, or energetic movement. I was intuitive by nature. I mixed red with brown on my color palette, dipped my brush into the chunky glop, and marked my space with my brush onto the 30’’x 40’’ canvas. I started to move my arm from left to right in a fast, uncontrolled, in motion, until I covered up the whole top part of the board. Then, I flipped the fixture onto its other side and repeated the same gestures until the underlying white was almost covered with a base of burgundy.
After the first layer was made, I took my scarlet red color, quickly turned off the cap, squeezed the paint onto my palette, dipped my brush in, placed it on the canvas once again, and started to move my arm in a similar fashion as through my base.
I asked the canvas to listen to my rhythm.
Then, I started to add ridged swirls of black and chocolate brown on the upper left corner with a smaller sized brush, going back and forth with red. To change the pattern, I dipped my brush into a glop of periwinkle blue and made a random stroke in a downward motion on the diagonal side. I stepped back and decided that it spoke for itself. I left that spot alone and worked around the rest.
My piece was finally complete.
On critique day, I placed my work, front and center, on our wall of paintings. Aside from the grandiose size, it truly stood out from the rest. It was abstract and had so much movement. One student described it to be demanding and gripping and said that she could feel it from ten feet away. The texture was so profound, that without touching it, she was able to touch it with another sense -- her eyes. My professor then commented on the power of the blue streak. “It looks as if you are wiping away a condensation from a window into another world,” he said. This speculation was not my intention, which brings me to another conclusion.
The theories made by the people around me were reflective on their own thought and experience. Neither did they know what I was thinking when I was painting, nor did they know that I devoted this work to let my energy flow. The viewers thought that I was trying to tell a story. Perhaps I subconsciously was painting a story because there was something so powerful that stuck out to me.
When I looked at my finished piece, I noticed a profound outline of the number 50. It is in the lower right section of the black mass. It jumped out at me and stood me in the eyes. “50? Where did that come from? How did I end up pulling off that? I wonder that the meaning behind this number is,” I thought.
My painting brought about something within my personal life experience. I gathered information about the meaning of 50 in numerology studies. “Expression of personal freedom, for 50, is the pursuit of whatever may be of interest, at the moment it becomes of interest, without resistance from its inner self or from others.” So perhaps my message to be received to me was to let me know that I have the ability to be free, to let loose, to express in success. I did not have to think, I just had to follow my inner self. I connected to my painting in my own way. And like I asked my painting to seek freedom, it brought a message to me.
With this experience, I was able to conclude that painting and thinking parallel. In both instances, you are the controller. You control gestures, your thoughts, emotions, and perspective. You can take control of your canvas and your paint the same way you can take control over your reality.
After this initiative, I concluded that people responded through their own interpretation to anything in life. Everyone has a different experience and related it to their own. Similar to life, painting allows the viewer to take meaning. It’s an experience that can stand on its own.
To have the freedom to choose in confidence is powerful.