FEARLESS Painting: A Willingness to Be Brave
When Connie asked me to write a post for her blog, my first response was “Yay!” Then the terror set in. And then I remembered something that I learned from Fearless Painting: I am brave. And that all I have to do is be willing to be brave, and I can move forward. So, here I am, to tell you about how something as simple as a brush, paper, and paint can change everything.
Until about a year and a half ago, I spent many years shackled with poor health due to what I finally discovered was food sensitivity. One of the main symptoms was depression, including a foggy brain that kept me from remembering who I really am. Once I began to heal physically and mentally, it became very important to me to rediscover my authentic self, my true voice. As I began to think about how to go about it, one of those avenues for discovery I hoped was still “me” was art.
I have always dabbled in creative things--everything from sewing to hot glass. Everything but painting that is, which was always something I saw myself doing but never dared try. I wanted it too much to consider failing at it. Enter the glorious Connie and her Fearless Painting workshop. Oh it called to me, and kept calling, but I was hesitant, because as long as I hadn’t tried painting, I couldn’t fail at it. It was still out there, pristine and perfect, and maybe someday I would be brave enough to dive in. However, the more I read Connie’s blog, and the more I re-read the class description, the more I knew that my “someday” was now. I’m so glad I took the leap!
One thing I love so much about this workshop is that it’s like all the other great “truths” I have come to believe in. It’s really quite simple when you break it down to its essence. The truest things always are. But the paradox is that the simplest things can also be the hardest to take on because we humans like to make things so complicated!
Connie has a way of taking those simplest of things, like painting shapes and colors, and making them not only easy but profound as well. Her seemingly boundless energy, passion, and enthusiasm get you so fired up for even the easiest-sounding exercise that you can’t wait to get started! Pretty soon, you’re painting! YOU ARE PAINTING! And painting fearlessly! It’s nothing short of a miracle for me, and I find myself laughing almost every time I pick up a brush because I wonder what in the world I was so afraid of.
This is not to say that painting fearlessly is always easy. But that is also the beauty of it. It has helped me find my way back to myself, which is not an easy thing for anyone to do if they have been lost like I was, but I have been able to do it with joy along with the parts that were not so easy to navigate.
One of the hardest things for me to do has been about feeling. When you have spent as much time as I did in depression, not only do you have to become accustomed to feeling again rather than being numb all the time, but you have to learn to become aware of just what feelings you are having. That is not an easy thing to do, by any means. With fearless painting, however, it has become a lot easier.
I have probably spent more time with some of the basic exercises we learned than a lot of my fearless sisters. But, for me, this is where I initially found the most satisfaction. Things that I have had trouble finding words for are much easier for me to work out in basic shapes, exploration of colors, and moving with the paintbrush than trying to talk or analyze my way through. I may not always be able to put a word label to what I am feeling when I am feeling it, but when I pick up a brush, load it with color, and add some music that matches my mood, pretty soon I am “feeling” my way through where I need to go in order to understand myself better. I know this will lead to better clarity, because it already has, and eventually the words will flow more freely, too.
And even though I still feel somewhat awkward with a paintbrush in my hand, like a baby taking its first steps while holding onto the furniture, I've come to realize that the more I paint, the less conscious I will be of the brush (it’s already happening!), and pretty soon painting will be like walking: you just do it, and it becomes the vehicle that will allow you to go where you need to go. However, there is so much more to it than that.
The more I paint, the more I love the physicality of it. I love putting my whole body into the expression of painting. I love the feel of the brush in my hand, and also knowing that when I become aware of tension from holding it too much like a pen or pencil, I can bring my hand back towards the tip of the handle, and suddenly the movement of paint on paper becomes loose and fluid again. All at once, my painting becomes more like dancing, and I am lighter and freer as well. The brush and I become as one as we glide and swoop and swirl with abandon.
It's similar to the way I feel about driving: I have learned to become one with my car. I am very blessed to be able to drive a late-model Corvette (thank you, honey!), a car that was designed for the distinct pleasure of driving and not just as means of transportation. It has become second nature to me to feel the sensation of my body moving in synch with the car as it glides around a curve, accelerating a bit as I enter the turn, and connecting with the sweet spot of the apex in order to maintain the line of the curve and experience the smoothest trajectory. Pure bliss! And usually, for me, much more fun and satisfying than arriving at my destination. But you can only experience this if you drive fearlessly. Not recklessly, mind you, but FEARLESSLY. Only then can you loosen up your reflexes and flow with the car. That’s what painting fearlessly does, too. The act of painting itself is just as satisfying, maybe even more so, than any finished painting that results from it. It’s that willingness to be fearless that makes all the difference.
The first thing required in learning anything new is to be willing. It’s essential. You cannot move forward without it. What’s interesting about just being willing is that it allows you to begin to open the door to discovery, and having that door cracked open even a little can start a flood of healing light pouring into a darkened space.
If you commit to being willing to take the journey and continue to move forward, even when you think you're creating the ugliest painting ever, if you stay with it and don't give up, there will come a moment, and eventually many moments, when you glimpse possibilities of something grander than you ever imagined when you first stared out. The commitment to being willing is what can silence the voice of that cranky inner critic (our fearful little ego) that keeps most of us from doing what we really long to do.
It was hard painting at first because that nasty little voice was louder than the soothing voice of my own soul. But as I maintained my intention to be willing, there came a time when my soul and my ego were no longer at cross purposes. My ego took a huge breath and relaxed in the luxury of my soul carrying it to a place where it never imagined feeling safe and comfortable. All I did was make a commitment to be willing, and then the possibilities before me became endless. The door to my heart was cracked open, I could see the light within, and the sound of my soul has become louder and stronger.
It's like the magic of seeing fireflies on a warm summer night, when the lovely surprise of their ethereal glow lights up the dark for a few precious moments. It’s so lovely and surprising and delightful! Only now that glow is coming from within me, and fluttering the wings of my soul as it invites me to dance and sing my way along, head held high, ready to take flight, instead of wandering in the dark with no sign of the road ahead. The compass is within me, and it knows the way, and it invites me to take its hand and play. That is what painting fearlessly has brought me!
Somewhere along the way, I lost the feeling of being an imposter, of doing something so just I could say "I am an artist", and instead I became one: just me, here, as I am now, enough, for myself, in this moment, with a glimpse of wondrous possibilities, and open to what they might show me if I simply commit to being willing to discover.
In doing so, I began to let go of the need to know where I am going and trust the process. And in doing that, I began to feel a connection to everyone else who is doing the same thing. And what could be better than feeling connected? It’s what we all want. All you have to do is be willing to consider being FEARLESS.
BIO & CONTACT
Paula is an intrepid traveler of the universe, taking one step at a time while trying to figure it all out. My Facebook page and blog are pretty much empty at the moment, but I’m thinking of changing that as soon as I decide what I want to say. In the meantime, I’ll be painting!
Come join the Tribe of FEARLESS Painters!!
BIG is currently on sale HERE! Starts January 9, 2011--ring in the New Year BIG!