It started with this brick.
My mission was to paint an angel on the brick to be added to the legacy walkway at the Forest of Dreams. Knowing that I sometimes see angels in wood, trees, and clouds, I peered at the brick for angel signs. Over the next hour, all kinds of things emerged in the brick. I penciled in the wings of the head angel and started a sketch of what I saw. It was an emotional experience bordering on mania. I have a reputation for calmness, so my mania could be another person’s normal. Who knows? But when I get in a drawing or painting zone, it feels kinda manic to me. I often talk to myself in this zone. When I was almost finished with the sketch, I started crying. I’m not entirely sure why, but it has to do with beginning to understand what was happening, even though I’m not sure what was happening. But I can tell you that working on this project definitely had a supernatural feel to it.
When I do this kind of work, it doesn’t matter that the house needs painting, or that I “need” a new kitchen floor, or that my house is cluttered, or that parts of the bathroom floor feel slightly soft when I step on them. When I am lost in this process of discovery with art, it doesn’t matter that gravity is slowly drawing my body parts closer to the earth and that my thighs are lumpy. When I’m in the zone, none of this matters. As long as I can keep my vision and hold a pencil or a paintbrush for another 20 or 30 years, I’m happy.
The image in the brick was too complicated for the purpose of the legacy walkway, so once I got the sketch done, I painted this angel on the brick.
A few weeks later, motivated by the local Silver Arts competition (part of Senior Games – omg that must mean I’m a senior), I started the painting. It’s not unusual for me to feel tired after a couple of hours in the zone. While painting the images from the brick, I felt more than tired. I had a lot of trouble with the faces, but I kept at it. Waves of exhaustion and subtle nausea passed through me. Maybe it was just low blood sugar. The first time I noticed this, I grabbed a snack, drank some water and kept painting. A little while later, even drinking water and listening to James Taylor didn’t help anymore, so I stopped for the day. The next day, the painting started to come together, and I was on top of the world. Good to remember how those feelings can change.
I wonder about the energy of the creative process. Have other artists experienced unusual exhaustion or surprising emotion while or after doing creative work?
Of course, the finished painting wasn’t exactly like the sketch. It took on a life of it’s own.
I am so thankful God, the universe, and my husband have made it possible for me to stay home to re-discover my creative soul, work on the passions of my heart, and look for signs of angels.