Why I Felt Like Painting Last Night

Lately, I have still been struggling to feel connected with my creativity. There has been more stress and anxiety filling my days than not and it has taken a toll on my energy. Last week it started to shift a bit when I took a yoga class and heard a reading about the importance of self compassion*. But shortly after the yoga class, I caught a cold and sunk into low energy again. Yesterday I had breakfast with a fairly new friend and it was transformative. We had such a deep heart-to-heart talk about real issues we are struggling with and then supported each other with new ways to think about them. It set such a nice, light tone for my day, even though we talked about hard things.

Yesterday my son also started guitar lessons. Granted, we are working hard to help him have more activities because otherwise, screen city, but he had an open mind and he was in a good space for the first lesson. His teacher had the most gentle energy about him. He was flexible in adapting to how my son’s mind wanted to understand new concepts and he was warm and welcoming. He is also a painter. Between hearing my son learn a chord or two, I was really moving into a feeling of higher energy. Acoustic guitar makes me quite emotional, it fills me with a deep connection to feeling alive. On the way home, my son was inspired too but he wouldn’t have used that word. He was noticing all kinds of colors in nature, and even talked about an idea for a sculpture. I couldn’t help myself and pointed out that he was thinking like an artist. For years now he has defined artist in the most rigid way as someone skilled at figurative drawing and since he isn’t, then he isn’t an artist. I try and counteract that internal messaging as often as I can.

When we got home, my husband had cooked dinner and that is a rarity, but we had a Green Chef meal to make and so he made it. Having something healthy waiting to eat that I didn’t prepare or shop for was a huge relief. Although I was tired by this point in the day, and still not recovered from my cold, when I went upstairs to change into comfy clothes, I had to walk by all my paintings and paint. I thought well, I’m not really feeling like painting but maybe I’ll try anyway.

I didn’t do my usual routine of playing music, smudging and lighting candles, I simply poured out a little paint and worked on a tiny, 4-inch wooden block that I had primed with titanium white paint last week. I didn't even clean my palette from the last time I painted, shocking! I thought working so small would be an interesting re-entry to painting for me since I normally paint on 30” square canvases. Although I have no clear sense yet about composing a painting that small, it was much less pressure to approach this tiny square than the big ones in progress on the wall. I chose the same color palette as my newest work in progress: titanium white, naples yellow hue, quinacridone red and cadmium yellow deep hue. This palette is inspired completely by a photo I took in September of a cafe au lait dahlia during the golden hour, while photographing my desert botanical card collection for my wholesale program and online shop.

When I look at that photo and paint in those colors, I am transported to the warmth of the sun pouring into my living room that day, the way the large blossom captured my attention such that it was hard to concentrate on my greeting cards, how the sun bounced off my amber striped sahaj curtains from World Market which draped onto the antique brown hardwood floors by my mustard yellow sling chair. I’ve been craving these yellow tones for many months now and incorporating them into my home, and now it is spilling over into my palette and onto my canvas, like slowly melted butter on the stove.

I love filbert brushes!

When I felt ready to let the first layer dry on this tiny wooden square, I wasn’t surprised to notice that I still felt like painting. I poured out more paint and approached the larger canvas on the wall. I looked at my reference photo of the dahlia. I remembered the video I made last week while I worked on this canvas and how I felt a tinge of sadness as I blended away a saturated area of cadmium yellow deep hue, every time I watch the video I want to rewind my brush and leave it there. So I knew that’s where to begin, by adding some cadmium yellow deep hue back onto the canvas. Once I did that, my intuitive creativity took over and I was off on a swirling adventure, blending some titanium white in here, some quin red over there and of course a spritz of water which makes everything drip, swirl, blend and dry into a magical other that I couldn’t even imagine.

I hope you enjoyed hearing more about why I do or don't show up to my canvas, and how I'm choosing and influenced by the colors around me.

If you prefer to brighten your in-box with my writing, and get started with a beautiful PDF of my favorite ways to practice self care, click here

Love is in the details,

Jess

P.S. Could you use a little more self compassion? I found this article very helpful and the author wrote the book Radical Acceptance that my yoga teacher did a reading from during class last week.