13 August 2013

feeling my way

last year i painted 100 birds. it was a starting point having neither drawn or painted for about 15 years. things had put me off. i've written about it before.

i've just read a lovely piece by artist sarah gallespie. i've seen her work but a friend has just introduced me to her blog. her latest entry resonated deeply within me, as did the previous ones. (you can find it here).

and it started me thinking.
i realised i'm feeling my way.

in her post 'on drawing and non-violence' sarah talks eloquently about the relationship and connection forged between herself and the dead stoat she draws and recognises her feelings of deep love.

"After six hours of drawing, reluctantly but with gratitude I buried her carefully in the compost heap and wondered the following:  If we spent more time looking at things - and by more time I really mean sitting for hours, and by looking I really mean gazing -  and less time channel-hopping our way through life, would we be less violent, unhappy beings? Buddhist monks in India traditionally spend weeks sitting in the charnel grounds, contemplating the dead.  Can we continue to fear, or hate, or even feel indifferent to something when we've looked at it properly?"

in a previous post she mentions taking a break from painting and falling back on that common piece of art school wisdom to "draw, draw, draw". it's interesting because having been someone who drew, drew, drew (from life) i'm actually trying to distance myself from that now. i'm finding it much more exhilarating and freeing to draw from my emotions, to draw from my memory, to feel my way. i find it incredibly challenging, to discard the object, the safety of the immediate point of reference and head blindly into the unknown. and by this, i mean that i don't even want to have a plan of what i'm going to paint - i want to let it happen. instinctively. intuitively.

i'm familiar with that relationship of looking intently, of gazing, of slowing down. i love that feeling of knowing, of building up the relationship. but personally at the moment i feel a strong desire to gently nuzzle it out of the way all together, to search for something deeper within myself. to gaze, to absorb, to touch, to examine, to observe, to photograph (as another way of seeing) and to take that feeling, that which can't be defined by language and paint spontaneously from it. to paint from the heart and the soul. filtered dreams and polished memories. to let go of that hand/eye/brain connection - embrace sentience and let go of mental perception.

i'm interested in emotional intellligence. feelings and emotions connect. they are associative. i feel that in drawing your way around an object or thing you will in some way or form, end up with that thing. drawing from emotions can take you anywhere. i mean that in both senses of the word - sketching from emotions as well as drawing on emotions. i like the idea of tapping into the less conscious part of the psyche to discover what is buried, as yet unknown. the starting point may end in something completely different and take you on a journey in the process. blank canvas. tapping into the stillness, the inborn centre, the deepest root of self.

i paint with the earth to unearth a deeper truth. i paint and draw from my heart and soul.

for me the greatest barrier is anxiety and the greatest aid is music. anxiety disconnects. i once read that when someone expresses that they are 'besides themselves with worry', they really are. one is no longer grounded in one's centre but is literally outside or beside oneself. part of this is a healthy flight or fight response when there is a real danger but many people exist in a mild and continuous state of this arousal. i feel this sometimes in myself and recognise it strongly in others.

i find that music connects me to the calm, still place inside myself. not all music but music written and sung from the heart. recently i went to see sigur ros play at the eden project. it was one of the most deeply emotional experiences i've had in a long time. jonsi's voice was from another world and the emotional intensity of his performance was spine-tinglingly captivating. i had an experince where i actually felt as if roots were growing through my feet and anchoring me to the earth below. i felt i was taken to the deep place i go to when i paint from my self.

and sometimes snippets of songs i'm listening to might weave their way into a painting. one line that comes to me time and time again is repeated in kathryn williams haunting song 'until the dark'  - "think with your heart".

you can hear the grass grow
and feel what the birds think
but you won't drink
what they give to you.....

 .....you think with your heart

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