Are you onboard with the mindfulness "movement" that has seemed to gain immense popularity in recent years? I can definitely see the benefit of it, but to be completely honest, I'm a bit confused by it. I recently heard an explanation that clicked for me: Mindfulness is not just about acknowledging your present state but embracing and accepting it. I think our culture constantly pushes us to change, improve, or advance to a different mental place, but there is a lot of freedom (and progress!) in accepting the feelings as they come.
Recently I have begun exploring more unstructured abstracts in painting, from classic still lifes and landscapes (which I still love to do, and will continue to do them). I realized the inspiration behind my recent painting, "Clarity" (24"x30", oil on canvas), and this concept of mindfulness, are good illustrations of what is drawing me to this less traditional look.
Abstracts scare the heck out of me because they is so much more freedom to express, but right now that is exactly what I need. I've mentioned on social media many of these new paintings came from a place of abandon. I was dealing with some very immediate stress at the time and needed to put paint on canvas for the sake of the process, and not to worry about what it looked like. I promised myself I wouldn't have to show them to anyone, and it was extremely therapeutic. As a result, I am continuing to paint abstracts. It was so healing to paint more freely, and I have been trying to paint the scenes and colors that make sense to me before I have logically processed *why* they have peaked my interest. In doing so, I have been able to move through the feelings I have been feeling, which I think is the point of mindfulness!
A week or so ago, having moved through some of the uncertainty of this fall, the concept of this painting came to me as my mind was at rest (as they normally do). I am a new mother to a wonderful 15 month old daughter, with a baby boy due in May. This journey of motherhood has obviously changed things, as every stranger will feel obliged to say as they see ones belly growing, and through this painting I think I can better express WHAT changed for me. Mark Twain said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble, it's what you know that just ain't so." What I "knew" prior to inviting this precious life into the world was formed after 28 years of intense living, and all of the sudden, this baby girl completely changed my sense of purpose. "Ambition" was replaced with "availability" to respond to the unpredictable and demanding needs of an infant. I was (am) experiencing conflict between where to devote my time and energy, and in a way, the ability to prioritize family has provided a lot of clarity in this conflict. But, I am still ME after all, so I am still figuring out how to deal with these conflicting demands, and painting "Clarity" was where I was finally able to acknowledge that.
While a big life change, motherhood is not the only paradigm shift which challenges us as humans to take a second look at who we thought we were. Leaving home, creating new relationships, marriage, illness, loss, career changes, etc... all of these things can shake our perspectives on the world around us. When was the last time you were faced with a major life change that challenged everything you thought you understood about the world around you? How did you move through it and what did you learn from the experience? I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time!