The weather in Valencia has been more Fall than Summer so it’s time to get back to creative pursuits. El Espacio Creativo has sat sin uso since June. Of course, we haven’t been idle all summer but I’ve missed using this space for what it was intended when I found it back in March.
Before we left on our adventure to Germany, I put the canvas drop over this painting. I wasn’t sure if it was done. It needed to ruminate in my brain for awhile. Did it need to be more than it already was?
So when I came back into town in August, I went down to the space, turned on the lights, kicked out all the giant cockroaches from the warehouse (yes, Valencia has epic cockroaches that drive cars!), and I pondered what I might do. But I couldn’t make myself DO anything more to it.
When I started painting I kept envisioning the phrase ‘As above, is below.’ And I think I’m happy with the symmetry and the negative space. So today, I’ve decided it’s done.
I did another one before I left. I wasn’t sure what it was but I’ve asked those who have visited the space, when they ask me what it is. ‘I don’t know. What do you think it is?’. Funny, this is a question that makes everyone very uncomfortable. I can see they don’t want to be ‘wrong’. Even after I assure them ‘There is no wrong. I don’t know either.’
For me, this exposes so much about how we block ourselves creatively. I’m not pointing fingers – I’ve done it myself a million times. But we are our own harshest critics before we even start. I knew someone in my work who once told me they didn’t like to do the work, they just wanted to critique other people’s work. ‘That’s my sweet spot.’ they told me. I would have laughed if they weren’t so serious about it. And it made me feel sad. I couldn’t imagine not doing the work. That’s where the fun is. Where the risk meets the magic that happens.
When I was working, I brought in an artist as a team building exercise, who had us all paint a self portrait that we would hang in the Innovation Lab. It was interesting to watch as people either thrived in the exercise or found it excruciating. I heard several ‘I’m not an artist.’ or ‘I’m no good at painting.’ I assured them that I’m not Picasso myself. There would be no judgement or a grade at the end. It was just supposed to be fun, and to give us insight into ourselves.
This is how I approach my painting here. I just paint and it helps me get out of myself. When I put on my giant paint-covered overalls, I lose track of time and all the stress dissolves. Experimenting, and finding some of it is simply terrible. But I just laugh and move on. Some things work and others don’t. Testing new techniques. But I have learned to let the failures go, and to take what does work and move forward. Like in life.
The good news is, when I’m not happy with how things turn out on one canvas, I can paint over it. Or just evolve the image. This one started as a simple splatter experiment and over time it looked to me like pigeon droppings. So I wasn’t going to leave it like that. Then I watched some YouTube videos on some interesting techniques on light and depth. Now it’s a wave as it crashes.
This last one is a work in progress. When I did the center section of “Above as Below’ I liked the color and I had left over paint. I hate to waste paint so I just threw it on these canvases and came back to it later.
What is it? I’m not 100% sure. At first, I was just experimenting with some explicit shapes, and I want to try a wash on it at some point, but this is what it looks like now. Since school was starting in Valencia I thought I might call it ‘First Day of School’ but it’s evolved – so maybe not.
Anyway. You can see I’m no pro. My style might be best described as ‘Brute Force’ rather than ‘Tour de Force’. But hopefully, my willingness to show my paintings will help other people realize it doesn’t matter. Go out and try something new. You’ll fail aplenty – believe me – whatever that means. But who cares. Then you get to join us creatives who write books or poetry or music; paint, sew, sing… Whatever makes you hum or whistle when you get out of bed in the morning. And that’s pretty much all I want in this life, too.