Sunday, November 3, 2013

Painting again is terribly beautiful!

So this year, I started painting again with Roz Cryer.  I was very, very scared! And vulnerable : "Can I still paint?  What if no-one likes them?  What if someone sees I am a fraud?  What if they are all failures? Danger, danger, danger!! People may reject your work and reject you......" My personal, internal, self-doubt dialogue that I am working on quietening.  
But Roz is gentle and she is kind, wholehearted and knowledgeable, so she skillfully leads you through your own gremlins so that you get out the way of the painting coming to life on the canvas, solidifying from the ethers.  Thank you, Roz. (Visit Roz on her blog)

Roz Cryer in action

 She started us off with mixing paints and doing the colour wheel.  I was very resistant and a difficult student!  I wanted to get down and dirty with a painting, impatient, nervous like a bull in a china shop, wanting the process to begin.  Gremlins loud in my head. But Roz put on the brakes and said we were to copy a Monet of our choosing - with our fingers only, getting used to mixing colours, seeing colours and enjoying the texture of the paint on our fingers! 

 I was longing for my comfort zone with a palette knife and so I copied another painting from an 18th century  painter of a dark and stormy night ... This should have  been a clue.... 

Gleefully, I started a new painting of some photos my son Murray took with my phone at sunset in our garden.  Original pictures, original painting.  I was excited...

Then disappointed... in the results, out of my comfort zone with a paintbrush. 

Then liberated ...... Roz said if you don't like it, paint over it!  Which I did! Ha! Freedom!

"This time", Roz said, "breathe, slow down, paint thin layers of glazes, allowing the layers underneath to show through......"  A practice in patience.
Did I mention I don't do patience?  Especially when I am nervous.  I fall back on my old tried and tested methods of performing, perfecting and pleasing others to gain outside approval to quieten the gremlins in my head: "Your're not good enough!"  It worked when I was a school..... But, with all I have learnt, being kind and patient and accepting each layer of myself is far more effective and satisfying.  And authentic.

And transparent.

So this was good for me.  And I felt really good and vulnerable and powerful at the same time.

Then I went back to my comfort zone of faces... quick and fast, with no real satisfaction.  When Roz asked me what I liked about it, I said the white collar on the left and I liked the power of knowing how to mix the colours I wanted to make.  Education is valuable.

But it felt old, done...I had moved on...

So I challenged myself with one of my sister-in-law, Sandra's, photos of a place they visited in Mozambique.  (She takes amazing photographs!) I used a combination of old and newly learnt techniques.  I found it a challenging process but liked the result.

And another Mozambique photo that I have wanted to paint for ages but was too intimidated.  I wanted to paint the sea so that it felt real in an impressionistic way, of course!

It was slow...

...sometimes terrible...

....sometimes beautiful...

But it always leaves me feeling light and expressed and satisfied, authentically expressed, from my soul to the canvas.

Which leaves me open to criticism.  But is it better to be unexpressed, hidden or fully expressed and vulnerable....?

Painting has been a practice in courage and vulnerability, breathing, being scared and practicing courage and vulnerability again and again.  But it is a joy, which in my experience, is equal parts terror and beauty.


  1. Thank you for this beautiful vulnerable, authentic and wholehearted sharing! xxx

  2. Aah Donna, thank you. Anne says it all. However agonizing, and it is often agony, best as you say to be fully expressed and vulnerable. Thank you too for sharing this journey of expression and vulnerability with me xxx

  3. Oh wow Donna - you have been very brave and I love how you put it, 'But is it better to be unexpressed, hidden or fully expressed and vulnerable....?' Well done on your courage xxx

  4. Love your work Donna.. and the way you moved through your fear into expressive vulnerability is inspiring and brave. Thank you for sharing your journey back to painting with us. xxx