On Thursday I drove to Willits, California to take part in an art class called Painting Alive whose facilitator, Beth Levitan, guided us to paint from our bodies and spirit, and not from our minds. It’s very hard to suspend judgments! We couldn’t comment on the work of others There was a woman who, to my mind, did incredible work and who was very critical of it. SO hard for me not to say: I want to paint as “good” as you!.
This is a youtube link that shows something similar to what we did:
I kept the post in mind (and in my enthused state said I’m doing this first thing tomorrow! well . . . important thing is that I didn’t forget).
I have chronic computer shoulder and sitting pain . . . I’m trying to not label the pain too specifically. I started this painting with red blotched on what I thought might be the shoulder and tailbone of the paper. The tailbone pain, which I’ve had in various degrees of severity for three decades, survived as the body of the woman at the bottom. You see her? I didn’t until I came home. The painting evolved with a purple loopy thing in the middle that I at once labeled “woman form” in my head. Trying not to make a form, which I later found out is okay in the process, you just don’t dictate to yourself how it will evolve or judge the work as being bad or good, I judged what I was doing, anyway, and thought . . . this is pretty clichéd, woman out in nature with trees . . . The trees had started to come out. So I painted over her and got a gray glob that distressed me. That’s when I called Beth over.
She noticed that I was holding the brush at the end, kind of fist grabbing it, and instructed me (re-instructed) to hold the brush like a pen. I’ve never been comfortable with my pencil grip and my handwriting has always sucked (Cs in art and Ds and Cs in handwriting as a kid). Holding the brush correctly was a bit unsettling for me, in a this is what I should be doing but it feels kind of weird sort of way. But some path inside opened up and I finally just let myself paint.
I ended up with a woman in the woods, but she’s in a much more ecstatic place than where she started out. She has more power than the purple loopy woman I originally painted. I like her yellow hair, which I may paint white as my hair is becoming. And I know why this painting is right for me. I’ve walked the “Hoberg Loop” almost daily since school has been out. It’s a mile and half path through the demonstration forest located a five-minute drive from my house. When I get to the top of the path, I’ve chosen a tree to sit under and go silent.
I hadn’t consciously put together my time under the trees with painting this until two days ago when I looked at the painting with some distance and new eyes.