Paint My Spirit Gold

After talking about leadership in my last few blogs, I thought I would return back to my other passion - expressing my emotions, feelings and views through paint - and tell you how it works for me.
I consider myself to be an expressionist. When you google the term, you get the following:
Expressionism is a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Northern Europe around the beginning of the 20th century. Its  typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.


Looking at this definition, I would say it fits me about 80 to 90%.  I do present the world from a subjective perspective.  I don’t paint from pictures or photos (there are some limited exceptions) and when I have tried to do so, I am like a little kid who can’t colour inside the lines.  It feels like a shirt that is too small - you just want to take it off and try something else. 


I am an observer.  I am able to be in an environment and capture its essence through my eyes, nose and ears and identify the feelings that come with it.  Just like when you let yourself go when you listen to a piece of music.  When I go into my studio to start a piece and feel like painting a sky for example, I will choose my colours and just let my hands define how moody or still it will be with very limited preconceptions.  To tell the truth, this is perhaps less true than it was a few years ago, but when I tend to have a very specific idea, I usually fail miserably at depicting it. 

My painting Tranquillity brings me back to the seashores of the East coast, while
Malaho brings me back to 2017 and our family trip to Hawaii. In both these cases, I didn’t say I am painting Hawaii or Newfoundland, but I let my brushes do their things based on the feelings and memories I  have that are associated with being by the sea, serene and happy.
Some artists meditate before they start painting. While I think it would be a valid practice for me, I don’t. I actually find that during my daily long walks with my dogs, I am always using that time as creative space. But there are days that the right mindset cannot be achieved and most of the time, I will not force it and therefore, not paint.  This being said, years ago when I used to paint in that mindset and naturally produce crap, it used to frustrate me so much.  Nowadays not so much.  Art is therapeutic and sometimes making a mess, doing something really ugly is what is needed.  We are so bound by wanting to do good and always be excellent, that having no expectations allows us to go through the motions and get out the inner crap exactly as it looks and feels - like shit!  There is always tomorrow and you can always paint over it.

There are times when concepts just pop in my mind and I just put them aside, in a small drawer in my brain.  It may take weeks or months but one day, the painting will feel like that concept and it will become a depiction of it.  At the moment, the concept of freedom is at the forefront of my mind.  When I think of it, I see myself jumping off cliffs or being on the top of a mountain.  Feeling small in front of majestic mountain ranges, yet strong and bold in my will.  These are the feelings that I will try to bring back up and see how they will translate on the canvas. Stay tuned to see what happens… 

Another example is the painting above - Paint my Spirit Gold.  This title is a line in the song I Will Wait from Mumford and Sons, one of my favourite groups: 

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

This song is over 10 years old and I have listened to it countless times. But a few months ago, that line just stuck with me and so, I put it in a drawer in my brain to let it marinate.

I wanted to do an urban scene on a big canvas and I had one out on an easel as I was working on another painting.  As I often do, I decided to slab the leftover paint on the big canvas when I was done with it and the colour was awful.  A very disgusting brown. So, I blasted water on it and with paper towels starting to dry the canvas.  Drips emerged and I saw the basis of a forest - good bye city lights and hello nature!  I decided to try to generate textures in leaves using paper towels and water instead of a pallet knife like I typically do and by the placement of the resulting tree tops, a sky emerged and the notion of painting my spirit gold re-emerged. 

Original acrylic painting, 48 by 36 inch on a 1.5 inch deep canvas.

Since I was a little girl, I always equated the rays we often see stemming from the clouds to the earth as a sign of divine presence. Seeing such rays in the silence of nature became for me an illustration of this concept.  I just love how it turned out.  It is a very peaceful painting.

Do I listen to music when I paint?  Often yes and it could be classical or hip hop or anything in between - it depends on my mood.  I listen to podcasts as well but miss about half of it usually just by being immersed in my thoughts and what I am doing.  It is like when I use to study back in the day, you focus on the task while providing some pleasures to the other side of the brain not in use!

Recently, I started to listen to biographies of great painters.  It is fascinating to hear about their own non-linear journey and their lives - which at times, are jaw dropping - liking young girls and syphilis is definitely an emerging theme to date.  🙁.   Don't worry, I also have other takeaways than this one ;).  There is one in particular that I like on Van Gogh, which talked about how his sister-in-law whom he had met just a few times made sure that he got know and recognized after this death.  You can watch it here.

Here are my other March suggestions in case you want to explore a few things.

I am a bit behind but I thought that the interview by Jon Stewart of the editor-in-chief of the magazine The Economist on the state of the world was well done.  You can listen to it here

In terms of music, if you haven’t listened to the music of Bladee/Yung Lean and Charlotte Cardin, you are missing out - they are on repeat on my walks.  

And lastly, for your artistic and binging pleasure, I just watched season four of Blown Away on Network.  Art, Fire and Glass - I am sold! 

1 comment

  • Rana Skaik

    Excellent work my friend. Congratulations 🎉

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