Boxes are useful. They pack things up. Keep them tidy. Make it easy to move. Keep things in place. Make carrying easier. Shipping too.
Boxes are also not so useful. When it comes to habits. Thinking. Doing. Boxes can be constricting.
Yesterday, I stepped out of my creative box of ‘anything goes’ to stretch my, ‘Be Mindful’ practice of art-making.
Of clutter. Busy. Over-working. Over-layering. Over-doing.
Of colour. Form. Shape. White space. Relationships.
And in my practice, I discovered doing something I tell myself I don’t do easily, is not that hard.
I have been enjoying the online classes of Laura Horn, an Australian mixed-media/abstract artist whose style I really like.
One of her online offerings is called, Minimal Magic.
Me and ‘minimal in my art’ are not very familiar with each other.
I like colour. Lots of it. I like layers. Many of them. And I like flinging paint at the canvas until its story emerges.
In Minimal Magic, Laura invites me to explore how “limitations can bring clarity and confidence to our art-making.”
Think before I paint?
Have a plan?
Hmmm… okay. I love a challenge.
And so I dove in. But with a difference.
Where normally, I would paint along with the instructor, or skip through sections at random, seeking the essence of the teaching through experiencing it as I go. This time, I watched the complete series of the course videos before picking up my paint brush.
It was freeing to be so structured. I got both the essence and the substance of what Laura was doing — creating beauty with just a handful of colours and a few tools. Seeing what could happen through using less.
Most of the afternoon was spent creating backgrounds by tearing out pages from a few old books and using them as the foundational blocks for the pieces I wanted to create.
I kept my colour palette neutral. Mixing and combining colours to create different shades and tints and tones.
I even let the pages dry. Completely. Before applying marks and design to some of their surfaces.
Believe me. Letting things dry is not my forte. Usually, I have a hairdryer in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. Both compete valiantly (and perhaps blindly) for air time as I work.
Yesterday, I let the backgrounds dry naturally before I moved onto the composition of the pieces themselves.
It was a lesson in patience.
It was also a lesson in how my mind’s craving for ‘more’ is a habit founded in fearing ‘less’ will leave me feeling empty.
Working in a new style yesterday, I felt excited. Energized. Hopeful. Full. Potent. Mindful.
I found myself at home with less yesterday.
It was a wonderful, joyful, calming experience. It was mindful.