The Lady of Living Waters, in process
Here is how I attempt the process of a painting. I think there will be several more stages still to come. This is one of the paintings done alongside videos from my teacher, Shiloh Sophia McCloud. This year we are following the directions, starting here in the WaterWest. The painting starts with intention and prayer written in pencil right on the canvas. The first photo shows the four elements building on top of one another, much as we know them in our daily lives. The second painting shows you my little painting corner in my study. I don’t use an easel, usually painting with the canvas flat on the desk. It’s easier on my arms and hands that way, my legs, too! Unfortunately, painting flat like that limits the size of canvas I can comfortably use. This canvas at 24″ by 30″ is just a bit too big for comfort, but there’s also something exciting about painting large. The third photo portrays the circle of the 4 directions, where water is in the west, earth in the north, air in the east, and fire in the south. Many different cultures’ symbol systems follow this pattern, with some regional differences. The four directions and four elements are also reflected in our playing cards and the cards that were their ancestors: the Tarot, coming to us from medieval Europe, but thought to be very ancient in the symbolism. The four directions are also thought to portray different facets of our human lives: in the west are our watery emotions; the north has our body the earth and our physical body as well; the east’s air ideas represent the mind; and the fire of the south is our spark of passion, of life itself.
In the fourth photo I painted over the first layers, providing a watery background for my lady to appear. And here she comes. If you look carefully at the last photo, you’ll see the energy I imaginatively “charge” her with, pouring in my own hopes and feelings and prayers. (Every particle dot a prayer. . . every radiating line a wave of energy. . . )
The wonder is also that while I’m painting, I don’t feel the physical discomfort that is my usual experience of life. Some might say that it’s just a wonderful form of distraction, but I tend to think that there’s more going on than that. I suggest that it has to do with deep relaxation coupled with alternating between the artistic/symbolic and verbal/rational parts of the brain as I become immersed in the painting and the meaning that I’m projecting into it. And, though not as physical as a hike or a workout, painting is a physical, tactile experience of beauty and pleasure (at least until you discover the 4-inch blob of paint that fell, who knows when, onto the carpet!)
I wish two things deeply: that every person finds and explores her or his own expression of beauty and pleasure, and, that I can finagle my schedule so that I myself can paint and write more often!
With loving swirls of teal and cobalt blue,