Painting again…

Whenever I think about painting, drawing or creating – I freeze.

It’s not that poetry is an easier form of expression. To be honest, there are parts of me that feel mortified that my poetry ‘following’ is not growing faster.

But, with visual art, I see these rolling pictures. These past events and people rock up into my mind like they still have a right to take up space, and energy – like they have a right to consume my present emotional state, and capsize it again.

Memories cascade into my head, like they’ve been hiding behind my thoughts waiting to pounce. Thoughts burgeon and bloom like some insidious, unruly garden (that probably has something hallucinogenic in it)…

I never had the skills of two particularly talented girls in class.
I couldn’t life draw like my first boyfriend’s art.
My biological father, an artist, didn’t really give me the time of day.
I needed to be brilliant, or there was no point at all.

I couldn’t face up to my flaws with art. I just couldn’t. I loved to paint, and it was a gut-punch to realise that I would never be brilliant (possibly) that I would never have ‘that’ special something.

It’s like…have you ever loved someone, with every fibre of your being, and then they turn to you and tell you that all your fears and insecurities are right, and that actually they don’t want to be with you because you’re not what they want?

That’s what it feels like for me to compare myself to other artists – that’s what it feels like for me to self-reject with painting.

Now here’s the ridiculous thing…

Since I was 14, I’ve been told people would pay me for my creations.
I was the only person asked to paint something for my school, after I had left.
I had a guy in a lecture turn to me, shocked, and ask me how I had created what to me was an extended doodle – but which was, to him, something amazing.
I’ve had at least 3 friends turn to me after finding or picking up a drawing of mine, shocked, because they didn’t realise I had ‘x’ level of skill.

Last summer, I decided to start a Japanese painting class. Where, by the way, I shared some of my poetry (and gained such a beautiful response.)

I barely painted. In fact, I just didn’t paint. The one thing I did try to paint was a gift for my Mum, which I have still not finished.

But tonight, I painted.

I was terrified these past few months about painting again.

You see, in Sumi-é, Japanese Black Ink Painting, the materials are expensive, and the cultural symbolism is intense.
I felt like if I failed at this, or if I wasted paper and ink, then not only would all the negative statements people had made would become true – I would also have to face the tatters of my old dreams of becoming an artist – again. I would also feel like I had disrespected an entire culture (I go big, okay?!) AND that actually, art would never really be for me…

We live in a world where, at least before the pandemic, we all needed more.

More visuals.
More art.
More drones.
More technology.
More places.
More angles.

It was and has been an endless, and overwhelming journey to witness my personal art world morph, change and reform, over and over again – breathtaking, in the wrong way.

The butterflies that were living in my chest began to feel like a hive of bees, and I could swear I was getting rashes just thinking about art-ing again.

After all, I want so much, creatively speaking.

Poetry, novella’s, blogs, books, music, photography, painting, drawing, dancing – if I could sink into a world where I could trip up, fail, and practice, and learn, again and again all the different art forms of the world (except woodblock printing, I could not do that again) then I would quite seriously not look back.

It’s such an obsessive, soul-feeding ‘thing’ that I could live in art, and never feel isolated.

It connects me, to me.

And because I compare myself to other artists, and always have – I stopped. In it, I wonder, did I stop loving myself, too?

I stopped this thing that I do that goes deeper than love.

I stopped this thing that makes my soul sing.

How could I not have stopped loving the deepest part, the ‘real me’ if you will, when I actively stepped away, and stated to myself, the world – the whole universe: ‘they’re better, I back down.’

Painting again is a challenge. It’s like rending my soul open one squeaky joint at a time (if, souls could have joints, that is…)

But, it’s already worth it.

It makes me feel, for just that impossible ‘before I start’ moment, that I’m back hearing every single insecurity, taking every slight, embarrassment – taking rejections that hurt the worst, whether they were intended that way, or not.

But, it’s already worth it.

The pandemic rages on, and honestly, it was just time to sink into something that I loved again.

It was time to paint again.

Because, it’s already worth every single ounce of pain.

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