Posts Tagged 'painting'

283. There, not there

The surprising power of green

There are two paintings in this entry.

The first gives a good feeling. All the shapes feel good with each other. They are very close together and whatever happens in the picture, they all take part in it.  But when I was painting, I knew that the big brown roundish shape in the middle of the lower half was a wooden wheel of a mill at the river, and I knew that in the water there was blood. In the painting it is violet. These belong to a traumatic event, not in this life, but I know about it.

So we have a trauma hinted at, but the context is like a quiet, friendly village, where the houses hold each other as they watch the bridge crossing the water. There are trees and the sky is playful.

In the second painting the shapes seem to be in shock. There is a house. There is a line in the middle that could represent a little bridge. There are trees, grass and sky. But the sky seems to be torn. Maybe there is a scream in the sky. A dry, dead branch, is pointing at the scream. And there are these warm colored shapes, orange, red and brown, colors that do not really belong in this landscape. They are in the painting to describe something traumatic that is just happening.

The composition isn’t settled. Everything is moving from its place. Where will the pieces fall? We do not know yet.

An event from childhood

Then, for a lifetime, the trauma that we had will be expressed in everything that we think and do.

Sometimes it will be hard to find, like in the first painting. In other times it will be strong and inescapable. Until we decide one day to let it go and we find a way to work on it till it is not there any more.

 

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281. The beauty of the cloud of anger

A vague Anger

I have learned so much. I have painted so many paintings and read them. But I’m going to skip all of that and be current. I don’t like going back.

The last two paintings are about being fascinated by things that block the mind, the imagination and the openness. I am showing here one of them.

They tried hard to teach us this kind of attention in the meditation retreats. They would say: If you experience being blocked (which is what the subconscious does sometimes, to protect itself against change), do not fight it. Instead, become interested in what is in front of you. Look at that blockage. See what it is made of. Examine. Touch, smell, and experience without language.

It is not easy to do, when you feel being blocked. All you want is to break trough and this cloud is in your way, obscuring everything.

But how about using art?

In this painting I described a vague anger that I felt. I was taking some medication against the pain, so I could meditate (so I could sleep too). It was not a first solution. I meditated and worked with the pain without medications for many years until it became too strong to bear. The medication made me dull and vague. I could not dive deep. I did not feel the subtleties of the energies. And I was frustrated in this vague way, as everything was vague. Painting this anger became my way of coming out of vagueness. It is not that it is important to know exactly how the anger is experienced. It is the state of being interested itself that made the difference. To be interested, to be curious, is to participate in a characteristic of the true self, and this is what made me feel better and this is what opened a window in that inner blocking cloud, to let some fresh air blow in. Now I became aware of the space. I had a chance to make it my home again and what was in front of me became beautiful to me.

What is important in the painting is how the movement goes. It is slow and sticky. It does not burst out but bends and looses power by having parts fall off it.

 

276. A report on my condition

My studio is changing its face. It is the place where my new phase of life will be created. Not finished yet. I did a lot of physical work and felt good with it. Only the nerves in my feet suffered. For days I had very strong pain. But I think there is less of a story in this. I mean, the subconscious does not make a big deal of it.

Even in the midst of the change and the chaos I painted in the living room. But I had three days without painting. Painting is my best way to converse with my non-physical parts. So it was time to talk. Last night I sat at the new, bigger table and my brush dipped itself in the colors. I asked Int (Intuition, the knowing that comes from the nonphysical and does not need thinking) what is going on with me.

Then I painted, to get the answer.

The lines in watercolor were wet. The air was wet and drying was slow. I wanted to use color areas but I had to wait. Every hour nowadays I stop everything and meditate myself to connect with the non physical me. I stay there. I see what I feel. I see what I want. Then I go on with life or so it is called. Other activities and the pain took place and the drawing remained untouched till the morning. When I looked at it in the morning, I saw that it was finished, just as it was. There was no need any more to add anything.

Here is the drawing:

Int's Report

Here is Int’s report about my condition:

  1. The ochre turned dusty with red. (Little pain. Part of the stories of physical life.)
  2. The red that could seem to be harsh and painful reminded instead of strong bright colors on dark backgrounds that I saw in my old drawings earlier. (Excitement, fun, love, adventure.)
  3. And why are there no blocked areas? Because there are no blocked areas in your being. (It is time to sneak out through the spaces between the lines and taste the true essence.)
  4. Green is the repetition of the red. (When you use one different color you want to use it again somewhere in the painting. But here the common element with the redness is the difference of the greenness, which is like the difference of the redness.) (What fun!)
  5. The eyes float disconnected from their caves. (Leaving attachment to the body.)
  6. The most open sections are the heart and the third eye. (Use them as gates.)
  7. There is a person there indeed. He has a shirt with a collar that is plaid. (You. I am talking to you.) (Which, of course is me. In my world there is only me. In your world there is only you. When we meet, you invite me into your world and I invite you into my world. It is much more mysterious and beautiful than we know. When we see through the stories, we discover that you are me and I am you.)

275. Side effects

Everything is changing in my world.

I am dismantling my studio. I am not doing art therapy any more. The studio will be rearranged, to support what I’ll be doing next. The free flow, that is who I am, has discovered at last that it had invented ways to stand in its own way. I hug it now, but who is hugging? My computer, what I need for making art now, what I need for writing, and a few more things will move to a temporary place in the apartment, for a while.

Here is a painting from a few days ago, and what I had written about it.

Changing

The drawing was ready for two days. I did not want to do the next step until I knew I’d have all the time needed to finish the painting.

I looked, and different possibilities ran through my imagination. Something was missing in all of them. The best thing is to do the colored shapes right after the drawing is done, as a continuous event. This did not happen in this case. But I found a way to experience the drawing freshly. I got closer, as I described in the past. I came so close, that my nose almost touched the paper. This did it. A new, trustworthier stream of ideas started to flow and I went along with it till all the shapes were there. The choice of colors came too as a stream, one after the other. Something in me knew what to do. Guess what part it is.

One thing that jumped to my attention is that in this painting the stronger part of the painting finds it easy to go out of the paper to the left side. In the beginning of the blog most or all of the drawings never went out through the left edge. The left side was usually left empty, and there was a lot of tension about this side. And here there is no problem at all. The right side of the painting goes out through the right, but it is the weaker part of the artwork and it feels hesitant.

So we have a change.

Lets take another issue. There seem to be two people in the painting. Both have a blue body. And around or close to their heads there are circles of colors that can be felt as light. It just came to me, as everything else came, as parts of the flow. My reaction to having the impulse to draw these halos was to avoid doing it and find something else to draw instead of them. But my dedication is to trust what comes. So I went ahead and did the circles of light.

When I was on my first meditation retreat in 1990, I had a dream, in which I saw myself meditating on the top of a mountain. The mountain and I were shown as silhouettes. Behind us was an orange light that became more and more intense. I woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that I could make my mind go totally quiet just by telling it to do so. I said: Enough! And it calmed down.

I have a feeling that both the people in the art are monks. They walk their path alone. They may be versions of the same person. The one on the right embodies an idea that has been let go of, and the bigger one on the left is acting now with a new choice. The word pilgrimage comes to mind. The direction towards which this figure is moving is the true ’I’, which moves all the time, so you cannot really reach it. But you certainly can be it.

There is a story in the bible, the Hebrew bible, about Saul. He is the one who would become King Saul later. At the time of the story he worked as a herder of donkeys. Today it would be like a parking garage attendant, who takes all the cars to the gas station every day. All the donkeys ran away from Saul that day. He ran after them in vein. But on his way he met with the prophet Samuel. Samuel was there because God had sent him with some oil to find Saul, pour the oil on his head and let him know that he was chosen by God to be the king of Israel. Politics was messy then too. To Saul this was quite a shock, I believe. But for the people who told the story, this was a chance to invent a saying: He looked for donkeys and found a kingdom.

Aren’t we all like Saul? We always aim for the less important things and the best happens to us as if it was side effects. Luckily, we pay attention one day to that part of us that is true and always awake, and eventually get it.

272. You have never been anything but this

Flow in the body

I like the painting more when I get very close to it. So close, that I almost don’t see all of it. This is also how I like to paint. The world around the painting disappears and all I have is the lines, the colors, the shapes, the textures. It is an extremely pleasant world for me. Who knows what’s in it? How deep can we go in it? Does it mirror me? These questions come to me now.

Maybe answers will come if we look at the painting and see what we can learn from it.

The lines in red are the energy in my body or maybe better, in my being. I know, because this is what I wanted to draw. The energy goes up, it feels to me, like fire, but not that fast. The energy does not stop. It goes and goes and goes. It is a good feeling, basically, of wellbeing.

Yes, you can detect some hesitation and doubts here and there, by the direction of the lines. But it flows on. This is the life as it comes together from so many shallow and deeper layers of thoughts. Thought after thought and Choice after choice, I determined how this flow of the energy of my now-life will go.

Take a little distance now and see those thoughts, those choices that build the flow.

They look like leaves here, with different emotional charges (colors). And their movement is not so unlike the movement of the energy. They represent all the same directions that appear in the flow of energy. This is expected. In some places the leaves seem to get entangled and almost become a blockage. But once their influences come together in the flow, they seem to move more in agreement.

How can it happen? There must be some other influences. And these are the yellow and orange shapes. Two of them, those with the straight lines, look like big bodies of light, or I can imagine them to be knowledge that is bigger than the stories in the leaves. And we have the rounded orange cloud that also contains that light in it. I won’t escape, I realize, without saying the word love.

And if you look at the general composition you can see that there is a lot of white space in the picture. This makes whatever happens in the picture, all that we talked about before, less significant. The forms may break apart, become brittle and dissipate in the white space. There is drama in the forms but the stronger presence is that of the white, into which all of the dramas may disappear.

And there are the three pencil lines. They seem to be some spontaneous excited declarations, while the more quiet curious shapes and the murmuring energy do their parts.

Now we can go back to the questions I asked in the beginning.

What is in it? It is not a question any more. Or, indeed, it could have been something else.

Does it mirror me? Of course, and probably mirrors every one else, in different variations.

How deep can we go into it?

The thoughts and choices belong to what we did throughout life or lives, so even if we go deeper than we ever thought possible, we will still encounter the same situation in which some kind of believed stories create flows of lives. The possibilities are infinite, and limited at the same time.

If we go into the white, we know it has no end. Every time we go a little or much into the white, we cause a change in our stories and in the flow. Our ’now’ changes. It can become more or less beautiful, more or less heroic, more or less of anything.

The ‘now’ is where our frontier is. This is where we come with all the stories that we have created and the ways that they have interacted and built flows, and with these we face and touch the white. The white can only touched in the now. Maybe we will step a little more into it, and all that we are, will change again.

Now the white laughs and says, between rolls on the ground and back flips: you have never been anything but white.

So what will a painter do?

269. On becoming a philosopher

The scream, the understanding and infinity

I just wanted to paint or draw the pain again.

In the past I used to draw the pain many times. The pain was not almost constant, as it is now. It would come every now and then and it would be quite devastating. I found then that I could draw it, the way and shape it was felt in the body, and after becoming stronger at first, the pain would start to get smaller and smaller until it would disappear. This would take some five or six drawings, which I made quite quickly in a little pad that I always had with me.

I thought I had the cat’s pajama. This gave me a way to protect myself from the pain and a way to feel capable and not out of control. But it also helped in establishing the pain. Because I did not want the pain and at least part of the activity of drawing was for the purpose of winning against it. When you think this way many times, you repeat the belief that the pain is bad for you and dangerous and needs to be fought against. This establishes the pain, in your mind, as dangerous and needing to be fought against.

I understood this and stopped this practice. But I also knew that there was a lot of good in making art about the pain. The good is, or at least some of it is in this: In order to draw you actually change your attitude from fear to curiosity. Curiosity is a characteristic of the true you, and it is of a higher vibration than fear. This makes you into a place, in which fear’s lower vibrations cannot stay. So it was beneficial in the emotional realm. And it taught me to automatically change my attitude every time the emotional reaction to the pain arose, from fear to curiosity. And you can add the sense of beauty that easily added itself to the drawing and brought a lot more good vibrations.

I am sure there is more good things to be found in this activity, so I decided to paint my pain again and find out. I wanted to let the painting bring in the thoughts and not the other way around.

All that is done with lines is a description of the pain. I took the liberty to twist appearances, as this helped to express the pain. You can see that it radiates strongly to all directions.

Sometimes when I want to give the feet energy with my hands, good, healing energy, the left hand jumps away. As if the strength of the pain’s energy frightens the left hand away.

After the lines, came the color areas, and this was done with a more relaxed state of mind. There is one line of orange round shapes going from a big shape at the bottom to a small one at the top. This is one story line. And there is a blue line of three rounded shapes going from right to left and crossing the orange story. And there is also a line of same-size round, smaller shapes, as if it is a bit farther, going diagonally through the whole picture.

To me, as I’m looking at the painting now, the orange and the blue describe an inner conflict. Two ideas in my being don’t agree with each other. And it is not shown as a juicy harsh conflict, but as an idea. One thought goes in this direction, another goes in a different direction and they disagree. Maybe it is even possible to see that there is no need for a resolution of this conflict. The two ideas can stay intact. We can get used to having contradictory ideas within us, because we all have plenty of them. Solutions, in any case, are never in the same layer of the conflicts. We have to go deeper.

The yellow line of smaller round shapes feels to me as the experience of a deeper layer of myself, where connection to infinity is felt.

How strange. In one painting you have the screaming of the pain, a more peaceful view of an underlying conflict, and a sense of infinity.

I was not interested in this case in the disappearance of the pain, but in seeing the bigger picture. I have changed.

When I told my Friend Stuart, many years ago, that I was about to separate for my wife, he told me a story. A student came to the Rabi and asked weather marrying was a good idea for him. The Rabi said it was. If you both fit each other, then you are a lucky man, he said. And if you don’t, then you will become a philosopher.

I feel as if I am married to the pain, we don’t fit, and I am becoming a philosopher.

In the end it may turn out that it was good for me…

How?

By forcing me into the deeper view.

257. Layers

P1000426

Yesterday and today I did two new paintings. I did them small. You finish faster this way and are able to see what you made immediately.

I look at the second one now, the one I just finished.

The first one is also interesting to share and maybe it will be in the next entry.

I wonder again about the function of the second layer, the layer of the colors.

The way it looks in this painting is that the line-work is the story, rich in details, like reality itself. It also means that it has in it all the stories that I have used to create this reality. That’s just another way to say it.

And the colors layer with the simplified shapes is a second way to tell that same story. Only it is devoid of the dramas of the first layer and loaded with (my) sense of beauty, which is a characteristic of the language of the real.

These two layers/languages work together through me to create my experience of everything. I experience all the busy details with all the contrasts, difficulties, hesitations, scares and daringness. And I also experience the deeper play of the energies that reveal more beautiful mixtures as steps occur. Again, when I write ‘beautiful,’ I mean my experience of beauty. In the deeper layer there is a sense of peace that is not in the story level.

The lines can be irritating, worrisome, too fast to attend to in a full way, but the existence of the deeper view at the same time and in the same place gives the calm feeling of: everything is okay. We are moving from one beautiful thing to another. Things work together. It is a good world, hiding right under the busy illusion.

You choose to go out (into reality) and you become more worried and more irritated. You choose to step in and you heal. You find the freedom and the satisfaction of meeting with your true self.

What is your true self?

It is a moving target. It is always in the deepest place that you can access now. Tomorrow it may be even deeper.


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The healing process

Entries 1-58 show how I use the method of Intuition Through Art to heal myself from Peripheral Neuropathy.

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