Complicating the Simple: What I Learned In One Painting
I recently started work on a painting and, as usual, had no idea where it was going.
And, as usual, it wasn't the final image that provided me insight and excitement - rather, the process of contemplation that resulted because of simply creating.
I picked the colors by feeling and let a design emerge.
Using acrylic paint, brushes, and paper towels on drawing paper, I spent a couple of hours just creating. Towards the end, I added a bit of light blue tulle to the bottom half using beeswax...and ended up covering the entire painting with wax.
This is the result:
It didn't feel done. And when a painting doesn't feel done, I usually carry it around the house and sit it down in random places - on the breakfast counter, the table next to the couch, my bedside nightstand. Often, running across it outside of the studio area or while doing something totally unrelated will give me a new and helpful perspective...an "aha".
That is exactly what happened this time. But the painting didn't tell me what more it wanted me to add to it. It told me so much more.
While staring at it over dinner, the following thought came to mind:
I love the simplicity of it.
But I want it to be something more than it is.
The painting had more to tell me about my life than I thought.
There is something romantic about simplicity. Something attractive.
And yet, when it arises, I am tempted to make it more complicated.
Simplicity is what is. Adding anything else - attachments, longing, regret, clutter, more paint - makes it more complicated. Knowing that doesn't stop me from wanting a bigger house, more books, and oodles of additional details in my painting.
But knowing that also allows me to sit just a bit longer with the painting, simply breathing.
A bit more time simply being with what is.