Are You Flexible?

Today was challenging. Wait, does every blog post lately start this way? Well, today was more challenging than other days, and that’s saying a lot.

In the morning I got to paint with my mentor, John Ross Palmer. It was a blast, as I love talking to him, and love his work, but it was hard too because I was trying to figure out what works for me in a piece and also because abstract painting is challenging and because… Well, I might have bought all sorts of fears to the table, but one of them is my fear of the unexpected, fear of situations I don’t anticipate and haven’t accounted for. I can be impulsive but not really spontaneous, if that makes any sense. Have you ever looked at a bull? It’s massive, therefore sluggish. It’s hard to turn a big animal around, and as a Taurus I feel that sometimes. I feel that I can’t move fast. Sometimes I even feel that I shouldn’t.

There was a little mishap that had already thrown me off balance in the morning: my goddesses were still not dry because I had mistakenly bought slow-drying acrylics. “What if the Universe is trying to tell me to slow down?” I asked John. No! His response was decisive. No! No! No! Please don’t ever think that.

John brought all this energy and a ton of ideas into the mix. I was excited but I felt overwhelmed. He liked the background I painted on a panel, the usual multi-tone patches of color I tend to work with. “Make six paintings like that!” he said. Just the background. Different colors. I could see his point but the logistics alone felt overwhelming. Where would a bull get six panels or canvases in a pinch? Bulls like to prepare ahead of time for errands and expenses. Bulls really hate going to the store.

My big-hearted but massively sluggish inner animal freaked out and then felt sad. I can’t really explain the sadness except that it was there weighing me down. As if being a bull that had to run an unexpected errand wasn’t bad enough. Then came the weight of what truly mattered: Why make those paintings? Are they really me? I am not an abstract painter. But who am I anyway? I contemplated a quick escape to Malaga. Changing my name, that sort of stuff. Then I drove to the store. Mistakes from the past, places where my world collided with others and universes blended in uncomfortable mixes of color, then separated again, followed me as I loaded six canvases into the car. Doubts sat with me as I poked the protective wrappers with my pallet knife. My studio was pure chaos, so crazy in fact that the bull felt a bit suffocated. She started mixing paint anyway but was disheartened by her clumsy hooves and her general morose heaviness. Then AVM came. We talked. We related. We discussed how this is challenging at times, how we occasionally feel like we’re on a game show. We also talked about letting go of ego, something one needs to learn in relationships, mentorships, and the likes. The bull has failed at this on more than one occasion. The sadness came back. I felt like crying. “Write that on a painting,” AVM said, “I feel like crying.” AVM put music on. She mopped the downstairs (yes, we have to do that too!), while the bull painted upstairs. Somewhere sadness gave in to lighter feelings. The heavy bull got over herself a little. In the end the paintings were done and I felt happy. I also felt like they are totally me. I’m not sure this does away with my fear of losing myself, but at least for right now, I’m content. The day’s experiences have taken me out of my comfort zone, and maybe that’s what really matters.

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