My journey through this Creatively Fit Program has been exhilarating to say the least. Whether you are an ‘artist’ or not, this process is more about integrating and embracing that YOU are the artist of your life — you get to CREATE anything you want in your life. Sometimes this starts with simple intention, most often by utilizing your right brain and getting yourself in tune with your inner creator/creatrix to be open to a new way of doing things. After all, don’t we all at some point hit a rut in our lives that we’re eager to shift? Can this be done by simply picking up a paintbrush and going to the canvas?
YES. Yes… it can be that simple, and that complex, all while dipping your paintbrush in a glob of delicious colors and putting it to canvas, even if you don’t know what you’re going to paint, or if you are judging whether or not you can even paint. Resistance will pop up, your inner critic will have likely start yammering, and the trick is to remember that, as we say in the Creatively Fit Program, “Everything is working out perfectly.”
And it IS.
In this third layer we were tasked with a painting marathon. I was most excited for this piece. I was foaming at the mouth in anticipation, walking by my blank canvases, my tubes of paint, lovingly touching my paintbrushes in excitement…
And then we found out that we were going to do 10 paintings in a week. TEN. 10.
10 paintings in a week, and… AND… we were going to paint one on top of the other. We were going to face our attachments to things, we were going to look at our willingness to be open and explore, while also tapping into the freedom to let go and surrender. Easy, right?
My most excited task became my most challenging. I have never painted over one of my paintings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to the delicate beauty of detachment. In my Buddhism practice this is something we explore regularly. I was mildly surprised at how much I was finding this challenging in concept, never mind in execution.
The other challenge? Resistance. Resistance showed up with big teeth, a long robe that swept up my art supplies, and a snarky mood with a limited, but crafty, vocabulary. “Look, that doesn’t look right… just paint over this and start over, no one will know… are you sure you want to use that color?… maybe this wasn’t the right paint brush… don’t you have something ‘better’ to do than paint?” and so on…
Resistance is a creative element we’ve birthed within ourselves. The trick to resistance? Don’t fight it, invite it!
I stopped painting for a moment, looking at this larger-than-life character in my room and invited it to pick up a paintbrush and paint alongside me. Sure, resistance will have plenty to say, and, as Carl Jung says “What you resist persists“. It’s true. So what happens if you invite resistance to join you instead of berate you? It was like inviting the kid who gets picked last for dodge ball… surprise and excitement washes over that element as well. You may not agree with each others points, perhaps not see eye to eye, but can you passionately coexist with each other? I think so. I know so, as that is what I did in this painting marathon.
My first painting was a return to childhood, painting a simple happy face person, all with our non-dominant hand so we could ease ourselves into this marathon.
I named him George. He’s a half blueberry, half grape breed. He comes from the land of Happiness and Joy. He thrives off the color green (my favorite color)… isn’t he adorable?! Note to self: naming your painting and creating a backstory, and saying “Hello George” every time you enter the room adds to the challenge of remaining unattached, as I skillfully learned. George stayed with me for several days. I couldn’t bear to paint over him. The entire family found joy in him. I could have simply gotten another canvas, started over, keeping George. However, that wasn’t the lesson, that wasn’t the journey I was being called to take. I enjoyed him, thanked him for the joy he brought (and inspiration from fellow CFC coaches to eventually create a series), and I went onto the next mile:
Mile #2 was about creating Contrast, learning how to harness our radical energy, which was done through a sunflower:
Mile #3 was Unity. We chose a shape to repeat over and over again, reflecting on how we create Unity in our lives:
Mile #4 was a meditative journey into Balance. Next to George, this was my next personal favorite. We had to rip paper and paint it onto the canvas, creating another texture and another layer:
Mile #5 was Proportion, paying attention and getting inspired through the nautilus shell, which ended up being my most self-critical painting. Remember resistance? Oh so chatty with Proportion! However, I did love how the torn paper was beginning to bring new life to the canvas:
Mile #6 was Harmony — how do we really harness our power? After five miles we were encouraged to just paint. Paint! Let the artist within create. I listened to the colors being mixed on my palette and allowed the symbolism of circles call me forward… no beginning and no ending:
Mile #7 was Repetition, and we tapped into our childhood play and did finger painting. Repetitive finger dips into globs of paint, meditatively following the energy of the canvas singing the paint back home, starting in the center and shifting into right brain thinking. This was a tremendously fun mile. I had an immense amount of fun, and resistance didn’t object whatsoever:
Mile #8 asked us to use one color, create various shapes, and allow for some of the previous painting to poke through. I wasn’t pleased with the color that came out, and that’s okay. I share this because there are going to be things we create that we love, and others that we may not enjoy as much. Can we remain detached and trust in the process? Can we trust ourselves to know that the act of creating in and of itself is sometimes more valuable that what the final product ends up being? This is because we are moving into our right brain, moving into our Truth, moving into action and creation. That’s huge!
Mile #9 was Rhythm, and here we painted what made us happy. I chose to paint a lotus. Why a lotus? It brings an instant smile to my face. It’s beautiful. It doesn’t deny where it comes from, however it allows itself to be beautiful regardless of how murky its past is. That’s beauty:
Mile #10… the final mile… a celebratory journey through openness, this last mile reminded us to create the change we seek. We can creatively create change in our lives, and the world. I chose to paint a heart, with emphasis on holding compassion, sharing in my world, spreading it out in the world.
This final piece hangs in my bedroom currently, until it beckons me to paint over it again. For now, it holds the energy of all that was painted, some that were beloved, some that were challenging, ALL that were complete no matter what arose.
The idea is to take it one mile at a time — don’t go forward, don’t go backwards, simply encourage yourself to stay present, you and the painting, one canvas, one imagery, one symbol, one mighty stroke at a time.
You can do this, too! Paint, get messy… CREATE! Remember, YOU ARE THE ARTIST OF YOUR LIFE! Give yourself permission to create the like you seek.