I had one of those PINGGGGGG! moments last night. I’m shifting massively at the moment; the skin of old me is peeling off in chunks {nice image right?!} and falling away, and shiny happy living-my-destiny new me is shimmering in the space old me is leaving, like a mirage that grows more solid and real every day.

Just your regular phoenix-from-the-ashes stuff.

This painting was the catalyst for the ping moment. It originally looked like this:

painting in progress

It was the half hour painting I did during Wyanne’s class a while back. And then I did a bunch of stuff to it til it reached this point, which you may remember if you’ve been hanging out here for a while:

painting in progress

And then it sat for quite some time in the studio, just vegging out. {And occasionally looking hopefully/reproachfully at me.}

Anyway, it can get pretty uncomfortable at times, this shedding/emerging business. Which is where I was when my ping moment happened. I was crying my eyes out actually. {Don’t feel sorry for me, it’s just part of the process. It’s hard to explain but whereas when I used to be upset/sad/angry/whatever, it would feel like the whole of me that was suffering, these days a chunk of me sits in spirit at the side, happy as a clam, and observes the raging/wailing ego part with compassion, and sometimes amusement. I’m not even kidding; this is how it works.}

And I thought, I have to do painting right now.

So there I was, sobbing in front of this painting, going ‘please, tell me what to do!‘ {and also, “this is weird, and kind of interesting”}, and I heard that voice in my head that sometimes gives me sentences when I paint. Not so much a voice actually; more like a download. Suddenly a phrase is just there.

It happened for the first time with Unfinished Portraits, and has happened a few times since. I have a growing list of these little gems, hastily scribbled in pencil, stuck to the wall in the studio for use in future paintings.

And it said ‘Just start.’ That’s it. ‘Just start’. {Borrowing heavily from a certain sports brand apparently.}

So I did. I picked up my pot of gesso, a long handled brush, and just started.

painting in progress

Every now and then I’d pause and think, ‘no, I can’t cover up THAT bit’, and then I’d feel an almost imperceptible nudge and do it anyway, before I could talk myself out of it.

painting in progress

And each time I did it I felt a jolt of panic that I’d just gessoed over something I’d wish later on that I had left, followed very quickly by a rush of freedom because it didn’t matter at all actually! And I really needed to feel that sense of control over my creative choices and abilities.

I might not feel I have control over the rate at which I’m changing {and although that is nothing but good it can feel terrifying}, but I can decide whether or not that particular {and let’s face it, very unimportant} circle stays!

painting in progress

After a while I found a rhythm, and discovered huge comfort in it. I was comfort painting! I can comfort eat like the best of them; I’ve comfort shopped {and taken it all back} many times; and if anyone knows how to dress for comfort, it would be me {oversized everything with leggings}.

But comfort painting is a new one for me, and although that may sound riDICulously obvious {I mean, why would you paint if not for pleasure?!}, it just shows me how much I can torture myself with painting. In the end I was just enjoying slapping on the gesso, spreading it around with brush and fingers, and then drawing wavy lines with oil pastel and pencil. And I really like where this baby’s going! Finally.

There is only one rule: Just start. Even if that means long painful minutes of staring blankly at the painting, even if all you can think is ‘but HOW?’, even if you’re scared to lay down any paint in case you ruin it or do something you regret, just start.

Just start. Just start. Just start.

Sometimes, not knowing is a good place to be. Not knowing means the possibilities are infinite. You can’t actually make a mistake. You’ll forget the things you painted over, although chances are you’ll not even care once you’ve done it anyway.

I have to go and nap now, and then I’ll be comfort painting til she’s finished.