Studio Practice as Spiritual Practice
I start every painting session by setting an intention for the work, and taking a moment to express gratitude. Gratitude for all that I have and for time to myself to create. Grateful for the space and equipment to continue to explore encaustic painting. Since my studio area was completed last November, I have been extremely productive. One particular work I attempted was significantly larger in scale. Working on a bigger surface with encaustic wax requires a different approach, and it can be quite an expensive investment in materials.
I say ‘attempted’ because I worked at it on and off for months, picking it up then putting it away in frustration. It just wasn’t coming together. I was wasting time and precious wax as I built layer after layer. I would add paint, scrape it off and try again. Repeat, stop and work on something else. Eventually, I set it aside, giving up in defeat.
This week I gave it another go. I put the painting on my work table and examined the composition. I decided to change direction, turning the painting on its side so it was vertical.
I remembered some good advice from a fellow painter: Sometimes you have to let the work lead the way. So that's what I did.
I chose a completely different color palette, one I rarely use. I turned music on and enjoyed the process, not worrying about wasting materials or the end result. I just enjoyed making marks. I took in the vibrant colors. There were areas I screwed up, exposing the underpainting too much. It took time to correct it. However, in fixing my mistakes I discovered areas where I decided to reveal what was underneath. I reconsidered the concept of the original piece, then went in a totally new direction. A narrative in my head was developing about how the newly transformed painting could embody what I wanted to say. I grew excited as it progressed, my heart pounding. Stepping back from it, I realized that I had actually surprised myself.
This painting is a victory for me. It reflects two years of continued study of technique and color. More importantly, it's a step forward. Lately there have been many external ‘nos’ directed my way, but this was a yes. My own personal, empowered, internal HELL YES...which cancels out the pile of negative influences that discourage me. The external things are out of my control. This was mine. An artists studio practice is spiritual practice. The work reminds us to:
Get out of your head.
Enjoy the process.
How we respond to failure is more important
than the failure.
Creativity grows from challenge.
Challenge leads to resilience.
Have faith and change direction if it’s still not working. (It’s ok to quit and start over).
There is truth in the creative process. With a strong emphasis on everything being a process.
It’s the same encouragement I share with my nervous art students when I hand them a big blank canvas: "This is your little world, right here in this space. What do you want to say?"
Because I say," Hell yes!"
I hope you do too.
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