I'm Back and I am SO Glad!!

Finally, my muse has returned!  Like a whisper on a breeze and a low grumbling in my belly, the urge to create was always with me but easy to ignore or brush away.  I pushed that part of me aside in order to do and be what seems so much more acceptable and practical (and pays benefits).
Thankfully, the nudging has been persistent and increasing until I finally gave in and put paint to canvas.  Oh, dear heavens above, why oh why do I ignore this urge?  Why, when it feels so good and so right to create?

I started off tentatively by sketching.  Yes, that felt relaxing and comforting.  I liked working on my drawing skills and I liked that I only needed paper and a pencil.  I would sneak in some drawing on my lunch break and then at home in the evenings.  Just for me.  Just what I wanted to draw.

I had some surgery last fall and was laid up for 2-3 weeks so I got out my artist trading cards and watercolors.  Yes, yes... that felt healing and relaxing and even productive, even though it was just for me.  It was therapeutic while I sat thru hour after hour of home makeover cable shows where the people doing the flip always made money.  I was cooped up in the house with beautiful fall weather out my window but knowing I would be restricted from horseback riding for weeks.  The art kept me occupied in a wonderful way.  Accumulating a collection of little ATC's felt good.

I had started a new job and as I met new people I shared with them that I was also an artist.  I showed them some photos of my work and enjoyed the attention for my art and that I have this identity as an artist that is a part of me, whether or not I produce or sell.  It is just ~me~.

I had begun to do some art for friends as surprise gifts as I got a bit hungry for the 'sharing' and recognition part of being an artist.  Creating in my home as a way to relax in the evenings has huge benefits for me so never what to downplay creating just for creating sake but it can be a bit isolating.  I've compared it to a musician and singer only singing in the shower.  They are still musical and an artist but something is missing when it's not shared.  So I enjoyed gifting some friends and sharing the art online in social media and getting some of that needed feedback to fuel the desire that was building.

At work, I had a co-worker ask me to do a commission as a gift for his wife.  I had not gotten back to my beloved oils at this point in time and in typical artist fashion, I put off getting started until I was right up against the deadline for this painting.  I finally sat my behind in front of the easel and started painting with my oils.  I tried not to fret about the state of my studio space, with the cobwebs, hard, dried brushes, dried up tubes of paint, unfinished paintings and white, blank canvases that had gathered dust during my long, dry spell.

I began to paint and as the brush touched the canvas and began to glide color from my brush strokes, I felt the familiar 'flow' come back.  I had worried I wouldn't be able to do it again.  I had closed this 'flow' off after a significant loss in my life.  The reason why I stopped painting is a bit of a mystery to me because it always made me feel better.  I think it happened because of the 'flow' I get into when I paint (and more dramatically when I paint in oils-- I don't know why).   I had begun to fear that lost sense of time that happens when I get so immersed in creating.  It began to feel like I would lose myself in chaos and grief if I went there.   I couldn't take a chance of letting go.  I became afraid to even venture close to what had once given me so much pleasure because it felt like I would lose my tenuous equilibrium.

How ironic.  Art was, not that many years before, how I found myself.  Getting caught up in the flow of creating allowed me to tap into a beautiful range and depth of emotion that felt life-affirming and energizing!  I could feel and express sadness along with delight.  I could move from one emotion to another, feel it and just let it go rather effortlessly.  I found compassion and acceptance for myself and for others as I allowed the emotions to wash over me as my paintings developed and just experience it but not hold on to ruminate over them.

Someone had told me once about how the human eye seeks out the visual contrast.  To make a painting interesting, I was advised, put the darks next to the lights to make it pop even more.  I delighted in creating this contrast and knowing it was what gave the painting depth and interest.  I looked for areas of 'rest' for my eyes to balance out more intense spaces.  I looked for harmony in my color palette but also loved putting in color surprises- a tiny brush stroke of magenta near the eye to warm it up or pale turquoise in a shadow to add interest.  I felt energized when I could be bold with color and resisted or floundered with commissions that tried to dictate my color choices.  My joy was sapped when I could not use color as I wanted.  Sometimes, I must admit, I got so wrapped up and excited about color and brushstrokes that I lost sight in other elements in the painting.  The diversity of color brought out the life in the paintings in my opinion.

Even talking about what painting does for me has caused me to veer off track here!  But in a good way.  I guess this is just a long way of saying I am back at my easel and I am enjoying it.

Take care and thanks for stopping by!

Sue Steiner
Free Rein Art Studio


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