Archaeology of the Art Heart
I forgot what came before.
That’s the trouble with layers.
That’s the trouble with life.
You pile on the paint and collage. One layer. Another layer.
You live one moment. You live the next twenty billion moments. You don’t remember every little detail of every little stage.
chunky slabs of experience.
You forget what came before.
Yet, what lies beneath is what makes this painting, this life, special and unique.
The finished artwork doesn’t tell. It hints, but it’s a surface, a skin of its former self.
You can’t see what went into the making of this tadaaa! presentation.
Squillions of nerve cells firing and conspiring.
Thinking, feeling, arranging, composing, doubting, dabbing, daubing.
Intending, befriending, disliking, rejecting, accepting, constructing, concealing, revealing.
Mistakes. Or what seemed like mistakes at the time.
Bits you paper over, scrub, rip, tear, squish, colour.
You put in masses of effort, then take the risk of letting go, shedding, casting away.
I’ll keep this, but no, I don’t like that.
I try to recall what came before.
I know I put a lot of work into this paintage.
I know it underwent a radical transformation that required taking the risk of ruining everything.
But I can’t recall the visual process, how it looked before, what it grew from.
Lucky for me, I’m hooked these days on taking i-Phone photos of play-in-progress.
I set out on an archaeological dig. I trawl through photo albums. I follow a false lead. There’s a flying horse that became a bird, then morphed totally into something else.
Heavens to Betsy!
Could it be that I combined two creations to form Night Flying Work?
It seems so.
The puzzle pieces itself together.
I am relieved and disquieted.
I remembered and I forgot.
Why share this super-personal art mystery and its solution with you?
Because, I guess, I want to communicate about complexity. Something might seem all-of-a-piece.
Someone might seem ‘together’ and complete – a proper, integrated, know-who-you-are, self-assured person.
But it’s also what you don’t see that speaks of their true make-up.
It’s in the authentic, messy, quirky, flawed creation story that we can feel connected in true intimacy.
This is why I am blessed in my art therapy and creativity coaching work. It’s a privilege to watch someone’s picture emerge, stroke by stroke, dot by dot, from nothing. Sometimes a client will ask me if I’m bored.
It is a source of beauty and joy
to witness a work being born from a place of truth.
Read more about Night Flying Work here.
And see 19 Art Therapists’ creations in response to their professional practice:
Thanks, Sally, your piece made me think of all the complex bits of our lives, the paths we followed thinking they were leading in a particular direction and yet they have led us to an unexpected place, through the places of pain and struggle, joy and delight, and lots of utter confusion. A great exercise in conscious rewinding! Enjoy the art therapists’ exhibtion, a wonderful notion…
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Thank you, dear Clare, for your thoughtful response. So well expressed, as always! Lyrical. I think that’s what I was attempting to say in many rangy, straggly words!!