Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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River Rock Studio – Painting in Words

Day 5:  River Rock Studio – Painting in Words

Composition is like a pasta dinner, our instructor, Jonathan Talbot, tells us. If you list the ingredients from least interesting flavour to most interesting, you find that the more interesting the flavour, the less of it you need to use.

We eat our art, he says, and proceeds to enthrall us with one of his many stories of art-making and life and a series of paintings under the name Patrin (‘patron’). It is a Romani word representing the signs travellers leave for each other. Here is a welcoming place. Don’t go to that door. They have good cheese. This vendor cheats… As a teenager, Jonathan lived rough for a while and was taken in by a Romani family in the States. He is a beautiful story-teller and his story is one of family, loyalty, bonds of gratitude that pay homage to a people who treated him kindly and set him well on the road of life at a time when he was lost.

In a field of white sheep, a black sheep is more interesting, he finishes off his story-telling and I am reminded of the analogy I used years ago when teaching creativity to grade schoolers. The cat sat on the mat does not paint a very interesting story. But, when I say, the cat sat on the dog’s mat, what happens?  And the students would get all excited about the possibilities of what could happen if…

Collage-making is an exploration of ‘what could happen if…’  If I put this image next to this, if I layer this on that, if I juxtapose this thought with this idea…. what could happen?

Like life, the outcome is seldom predictable, often uncontrollable. We must stay unattached to the outcome to give ourselves the freedom to explore the context of the elements and aspects of where we’re at to find ourselves free of expectations that the journey will be anything other than….. fascinating!

Benjamin Zander, co-author with his wife Rosamund Stone Zander, of “The Art of Possibility” shares his response when life throws curve balls or he takes a left instead of the right he’d planned. Rather than judging himself, or calling himself a loser, or stupid, he throws both arms up above his head, puts a huge grin on his face and exclaims, “How fascinating!”

I make many mistakes working in a medium I’m not familiar with, learning new techniques. When I choose to judge them as ‘mistakes’, I limit my capacity to push through what is happening into that mystical place of all that is possible when I let go and fall into wonder, awe, Love.

How fascinating!

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Painting In Words

©2014 Louise Gallagher
(Written at River Rock Studio, July 31, 2014)

Lost in a sea of colours and shape
painting in words
poetry pouring down
from cerulean skies
burnished with umber and quinachrodone gold
floating on a sea of Pyrrole Orange
I forget that place where right and wrong
matter as I attempt to hold on
to a design I cannot let go of.
Lost in the deceit
of believing letting go
will kill my dreams
of creating under water.

Diving into the nothing
that is left
when I let go
I fall
effortlessly
into the divine essence
of life
flowing in all directions
immersing me
in its wonder.

Letting go
I fall
free
of holding on
to nothing
but everything
I am
when I
let go.


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Isn’t that fascinating!

Sky hangs heavy
like a dream unbidden
tears fall silent in the night

photo (75)I have been working on a new art journal based on the 10 Things I would tell my 13 year old self post I wrote last week. Last night, I messed up.  I know. I know. Unbelievable! Inconceivable. But it’s true. I did. Mess up. 🙂

I came home from the office with good intentions. A couple of hours in the studio. A late yin yoga class. Bed by 10:30.

I missed the yoga class. Became so engrossed in creation, time passed unnoticed. That’s not at all a bad thing, other than I didn’t give my body the attention it deserves.  Dang. How easy it is to lose that  balance thingie when I become singular in my attention.

The real mess up, though, came in my creating.

I overworked a page.

Took it over the edge of what pleased me into that place where I kept hemming and hawing about what to do to bring it back into balance.

I didn’t really want to go back in and rework it and I definitely didn’t want to paint it over or throw it out. I actually didn’t even want to not like it, but I didn’t like it, and I couldn’t ignore my feelings nor my thoughts no matter how hard I was trying to pretend it was ok.

My gut speaks loud in those instances where I am attempting to accept the unacceptable and make it ok.

I didn’t always listen to my gut. Now I do.

I painted over the page I was working on and let it dry.

It is one of the greatest lessons in painting, and life, that I hold true.

If you don’t like it, paint over it.

Painting over it doesn’t mean I have to get rid of everything I’ve done already. It just means, creating a clean slate while allowing some of what was there to show through, to be part of the underpainting of what is happening now.

Yesterday, Val at Find Your Middle Ground wrote,

We are still weaving our tapestry of life.
We can repair and recreate into our own unique design.
Nothing is really lost. Be kind and careful with your tapestry.
Have faith that you can bring new life to it.

We are always weaving into our life, threading moments that inspire and moments that conspire to pull us out of the light. It is in our capacity to find the value in each moment and thread that through our needle that creates the difference between a life lived as a daily grind, or a life expressed through moments that take each breath away.

Last night, as I sat in my big comfy chair that sits in the corner of the studio and wrote in my journal, I thought about what was the value of overworking that page and found myself laughing at myself. As Benjamin Zander exclaims when he’s done something that is totally not what he intended, “Isn’t that fascinating!”

I was fascinated last night by my capacity to let go of being in the moment, going with the flow and trusting in the process.

In my forgetfulness, I became rigid in my thinking that I knew what I was doing. In thinking I ‘knew’, I didn’t allow space for my intuition, my creative muse, my source to guide me.

See, the reason the page went over the edge is because I wasn’t paying attention to being in the creative process. I was paying attention to the act of creating. That space where me, myself and I, compel me to get busy doing the act of creating and not be One with the art of creating.

In that space of pushing and pulling and wanting to make it happen, my need for perfection, my need to ‘make it look smart’, make it appear clever, overtook my soul’s desire to simply be present and flow with the process.

In each of our tapestries there are moments of wonder and awe and moments of’ “really? what was I thinking?”. Finding the value in all things, allows us to thread our needle with purpose and allow the design of our tapestry to be a unique expression of our lives.

Last night, I found wisdom in stepping back and allowing myself the grace of painting over. And, I was reminded that my ego (aka The Critter) likes to jump into the foray when I am least expecting him. Who knew the critter could paint? I wonder if I should tell him he can’t, or simply let him live with his delusions as I paint over the messes he creates and exclaim, “Wow Mr. Critter. Isn’t that fascinating!”