Unapologetically Me

Bird of Contentment Mixed Media 24" x 30" Louise Gallagher 2014

Bird of Contentment
Mixed Media
24″ x 30″
Louise Gallagher 2014

I created on the weekend. Spent time in the studio splashing paint and ideas and feelings onto a canvas that had hung around as something else waiting to emerge as what it was always meant to be.

It is the thing about creating.

Within every creation there is that moment where what is apparent is not what appears. Where what was becomes simply the path to what is.

The Bird of Contentment started out a couple of years ago as a landscape. Dissatisfied with where it was at, I applied a layer of cheesecloth and painted over and into the surface. A forest standing silent under a moonlit sky appeared. It hung around for while until this fall when the dark forest asked to become an autumn woods replete with riotous splashes of gold and red and ochre shimmering on the edges of a stream burbling merrily along its way.

I let it happen.

And still, it wasn’t fully expressed. It didn’t feel like my voice appearing on the canvas but rather, more like what I felt my voice should be if I was painting what I thought was easy, expected, common.

On Friday afternoon, I stepped into the studio and let my voice call me out into expression upon the canvas.

A thought had been forming for awhile about what wanted to be expressed on this canvas. I had heard it some weeks ago and let it simmer, let it percolate and coalesce into a calling forth from within me yearning to be released. Rather than just ‘painting over’, I allowed what was waiting to become apparent to give itself expression using what was already there as the foundation of what was looking to appear.

The expression of the Bird of Contentment evolved from the inspiration of a comment my eldest daughter wrote in her birthday card to me.

“Thank you for being so unapologetic about who you are, and what you stand for,” she wrote.

Birds are so delicate looking, so tiny and innocent and fragile and yet, so strong. They hang around the birdfeeder, sit on wires, soar above or float on the calm surface of a pond and are simply present to what is in the world around them. They squawk and tweet and sing and whistle and make themselves heard because that’s what they do. Birds are unapologetically who they are.

Birds naturally do what I have always dreamt was possible — fly.

I have always dreamt of flying yet, for many, many years, I kept my wings tucked into my body. I was fearful that if I let them out, I would not fit into the world. I truly would be the deep, dark secret the critter within whispered to me in moments of unease. “You are a misfit. You don’t belong. You don’t fit in.”

And, because I so desperately wanted to be liked, to be like others, to be part of the whole of the world I saw outside me, I tried to be who others thought I should be, the someone I believed I needed to be to get along in the world without letting my wings show.

And in my unease, I created a lot of ripples.

I like making ripples.

I like creating waves. Of love. Harmony. Peace. Joy.

But, because I was struggling to keep my wings tucked in, I often, unintentionally, created discord. Sometimes, I hurt those I love. Sometimes, I did things that didn’t make sense, that created bumps in the road and upended smooth sailings into tumultuous rides.

It is still possible to do these acts of discord – but in becoming free to express my voice, unapologetically, I am more adept at seeing when my actions create that which I do not want to create in the world. Discord and unease. Tension and pain.

It is the gift of time. When I see that I have created is not creating better in the world, I must breathe deeply into my unease, acknowledge the discord I’ve created and commit again to the path of creating more of what I want in my world. Love. Harmony. Peace and Joy.

It has been the evolution of my voice. The letting go and surrendering to my heart calling me to live from and through my own unique  voice. To be unapologetically me.

And it has been the evolution of this painting.

From silent dark forest to tumultuous autumn woods to the Bird of Contentment.

I have splashed and sprayed and covered up and over. I have dug into and scratched the surface, I have wiped it clean and coloured it up.

And through it all, I have reached moments of discord. Those spaces where what is happening feels too raw, too real, too revealing, too vulnerable that I just want to stop. Step away. Forget it. Let it go and move on.

And still, I have persevered and persisted. I have kept digging into it. Keep moving through the discord to find the harmony and joy of being real and revealed.

There was a moment on Friday where it was very apparent to me that this painting was going nowhere. Where everything looked discordant and so jumbled up and ‘blah’ that I thought the only answer was to just throw the whole thing out.

I wanted to quit.

But the voice of my wings calling me to fly free persisted.

Don’t give up. You can do this. Be present. Be patient. Be open to letting it happen. Trust.

And so, I trusted in the process and let my wings appear through the messy globs of paint yearning for expression on my canvas.

And in their appearance, the Bird of Contentment arose.

And that’s the thing.

I couldn’t see how the final painting would appear until I got over my resistance to letting go and gave voice to my fear of flying.

In the freedom to be unapologetically present as who I am in front of the easel, what was always there waiting to be revealed appeared and in its appearance, my voice sang out loud and clear.

I am free to be me!

I am content.


Announcing my first ever art Calendar!

I also created a calendar over the weekend of some of my art and words.  It was a fun and joyful way to express myself.  I’ve decided to take a step ‘out there’ and offer it for sale. There’s still time to order a copy before Christmas!  🙂

You can preview and order it here:  2015: A Year To Dare Boldly