“Ambiguous Rose”- Unfinished Oil on Canvas (work in progress)
Inspiration, fear, the unknown. All describe the moments before putting paint to the blank canvas. What the blank canvas represents can all be a state of mind. We are either fearful of the unknown or feel inspired by what could be. What I have learned recently is that new ideas suddenly emerge when they are in right relationship with one another. Often when we think something is out of place it can really be in perfect harmony if left alone in its natural place.
Without the right context it doesn’t make sense. I learned this first hand this week while working on a new oil painting of a brilliant pink rose. There is always that moment while I am painting where I get lost, not seeing the whole. With my nose literally right up in the canvas I am at a loss at which way to go. Do I add more pigment here? Was I too bold there? Are my values in harmony with one another? Often when I get to this stage it is the white space or the unknown surrounding the image that I work on next. Because, I tell myself that without right context like in the case of the “ambiguous rose” it does not look like much of anything but a smattering of pink on white canvas.
So, I start adding context. I think of what I may have done in the past that pulled a painting together. Waiting to be led and wondering if there will be struggle. Will there be obstacles along the way or will the path be clear? Most likely the struggle will surface but there will also be moments of pure clarity and knowingness how to proceed. Without giving much energy or emphasis on the “I think I may screw this up,” category but instead maybe just letting things be.
Sometimes by letting things be we think we are in the procrastination mode. However, there may be something deep within us that knows that even in the messiness or out of place something may look it has a place somewhere or somehow it’s just we can’t quite put our finger on it yet.
The unfinished canvas is in all of us. We are all beautiful and messy all at once. That is to change who we are or to subvert to someone else’s idea of who we should be is forgetting our own relationship to the world. The bigger picture. We all want to matter and feel that we fit somehow in all the aspects of our life. Yet, like the unfinished canvas we are all works in progress. Looking for ways to receive all those life giving elements needed to feel that sense of completion or wholeness within ourselves.
To change who we are for convenient sake or for someone else is like cutting the roots from a tree. All life-giving elements disappear in an instant. Often we subvert because we think we are being too bold. We tell ourselves to stop being who we truly are because it might just be too much. We conform because we think it is the only way to get through this world. Yet, few transformative experiences in life are tidy, neat and make any type of sense in the moment. They take time and often need that messy process of getting to know ourselves and our relationship to those around us.
When I look at a painting, it is in the relationship of color next to color that helps the image make sense. The interplay of each unique brush stroke having a life of one’s own but also contributing to overall pattern of the painting.True original expression cannot be planned in advance. And neither can we. As creators in our life and in our work the best we can do is to remain true to ourselves and open to what is moving in and around us. Without cutting ourselves off from what feeds us, fuels us, and allows us to be bold. Bold as defined by who we are without conforming to who we are not.
So, I will continue to work on my “ambiguous rose,” letting her take shape, not cutting her at her roots. But, allowing her to grow in context to her surroundings. Right where she is at in the moment, changing, evolving and occasionally getting the sense that she is right where she belongs.