Working Backwards – thoughts on painting in the negative

{prompts for this week are further down the page. keep reading ;}

Typically as I work on a painting or journal page, I am thinking about how I can turn something negative in my life into something more positive. I begin with a thought, a feeling, a word, and I embellish draw, paint and change that negativity into a positive healing process. 

This is what I teach my intuitive painting students, and this is how I like to process life.

For instance, I will take a word like lonely, paint it in big bold letters in the center of my canvas, turn on some awesome music – then go to town! I work from a place of darkness into the light. Taking a word that has made me feel other than into a place of acceptance, love, healing, gratitude and joy. The changing feelings and impressions that occur in the process of creation can be so healing for me.

Emotionally. Physically. Relationally.

It is how I love to see my work transform.  I watch as it progresses from a place that I don’t like, one I’m unsure about or really struggling with, into what I desire to be, or feel emotionally. It has, I must say, served me well.

But this week we are going to approach this process from a different perspective to learn something more about ourselves. Because hey, we are in discovery mode! Whether you are working small or large, colorful or with a limited palette, discovery is all about immersing ourselves in the process.

When God created the universe, He was right down in it.

“and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” gen 1:2

or as the message version quips:

“God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.”

This particular version gives me the impression that He was really sweating the small stuff.  He wanted something beautiful that He could be proud of – after all, God is perfection. He was there when everything was chaotic. When it was ugly and unrecognizable. And He stayed with the process, He didn’t give up as the changing facets of creation morphed and became something immensely beautiful to Him. (Sounds a lot like me in the beginning stages of a painting!)

Instead of giving up in the ugly stages of creation (cuz you gotta know they totally were there), He stuck with the plan. He worked the clay until it yielded to His touch and His will, creating a beautiful, unparalleled masterpiece.

Those must have been some of the most stressful 7 days – EVER! (Just my humble thoughts for sure)

…and it was beautiful

“It is good” He said

This is our own desire right, to create something beautiful, something good? Sometimes you just have to go through some real ugliness to achieve that goal. Don’t get stressed. Don’t give up. Work that clay until something beautiful emerges.

So this week, here is what I would like you to do:

Monday:

Paint your page (or whatever you may be working on) with swaths of color. You can block them in or just brush random wide strokes filling the area with as much color as you like. let it dry.

Tuesday:

Using contrasting paint or gel pens, in each of the blocks of color create a pattern within that area. For instance if the block is black, use white or some other light color and fill it with dots. Choose whatever contrasting or complimentary color you like but stay within that space.  Vary your colors and marks from block to block.

Wednesday:

Now choose a color that you haven’t already used, and a mark that you particularly like (mine is a circle) and create a larger pattern that migrates over a few of the blocks, unifying them with the mark. Put it in a few places around the whole surface to create continutity.

Thursday:

Using your view finder, or fingers shaped like a square, identify areas of pattern or color overlap that you like. Take a mental note. Now….squint your eyes at the picture as a whole. Do you see any emerging patterns? A face, animal, object? Look for possibilities in the brushstrokes. Maybe the colors melded in a particular area, and with the marks made on top you see a kitten looking back at you. This is what your picture wants to be. Look for houses, planes, birds, dogs, teacups.  It’s really up to you how you choose to see things.

Taking a charcoal pencil, lightly sketch some loose lines encapsulating the image you see. Then let it rest. Tomorrow comes the negative painting.

Friday:

To finish off your painting this week, I want you to paint all of the areas that are outside of the image that you drew yesterday. This is called negative painting. Let your brush be loose as you block it all in with color, not worrying if the lines are straight or if it creates a great likeness. Letting go and letting something new emerge is the goal here.

You can choose a solid color like black or white, or you may choose to use a blending of colors that are similar to block it in.  Whatever you choose, it should be calmer than what is inside.  After you get that done, go in with some black or white and do some line work to further define your image.

Now step back

What did you see?

The emerging patterns that we find in an otherwise chaotic surface can tell us a bit about who we are, what we like.  I tend to see florals in most of what I do. It is just how I roll. I can see blooming beauties where others only see mess. Maybe that is my gift, to see what others can’t see. But this can be your gift too. Sometimes it is just a matter of developing it. 

Flowers can be symbolic of growth, inner beauty, emergence, and God’s provision (for He clothes the flowers of the field)

Finding the symbolism in what you most often see where others don’t, will give you a bit of insight into your inner self. Through this exercise, I see myself as a see-er of inner strength and beauty in the world around me and it increases my faith knowing that my God sees me and clothes me with beautiful color and gifts, true provisions for my life.

What did you SEE this week? Do you need help finding its symbolism?  I would be very happy to assist you in this. Leave a comment and I will help you to unveil a bit of your inner-self.

I would love to see what you created. Post to instagram using #creativefaith  #CP4aCL and #52project

Happy Creating my friends!

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