I must admit I’m not a big fan of abstract paintings.  First of all, I don’t really “get” them.  What am I supposed to see in a bunch of squares and dots?  I think my mind just doesn’t know what to make of it.  If I can detect a form or something tangible in a piece, then my mind at least has something to grasp.  If there’s an explanation or a title, that definitely helps.  But usually when I’m at a museum or gallery, I hurry through the abstract paintings and head straight for the Impressionists.   For me, this style of art is the perfect balance between abstract and realistic imagery.

But recently I had an experience with making abstract art that changed my way of thinking…at least a little bit.  A neighbor of mine is also an artist.  I admire her because she hangs her art all over her house.  You can’t help but see it.  More than that, you can FEEL it.  That’s because her style is Expressionistic.  She seeks to evoke a feeling or idea more than anything else.  She says she hides herself in her work, which is really interesting.   She’s always asking me what I see in her paintings.  Sometimes I have to admit that I don’t know.  But it isn’t as simple as that.  I feel something immediately, but I can’t conceptualize it right away.

I love a good mystery as much as the next person, but I couldn’t let it go at that.  The more I didn’t get it, the more I wanted to.  I’m stubborn like that 😉  I was just going to have to try it out myself.

My neighbor invited me over to paint.  Her dining room is her studio.  How cool is that?  The number one rule:  there are no rules (except to wash out the brushes.  She was serious about that.)  Then she put on some chill country music (because if there is one thing about country singers– they know how to feel!)  She told me to pick out a canvas, any shape and size, and motioned to the large tubes of acrylic paint in every color you can imagine.  I think she could sense my hesitation.  Her only advice:  Start with your hands.

I felt a little silly at first, like a kid again finger painting.  But you know what?  It helped me loosen up.  Something about getting your hands in it.  Like playing in mud.  It was a goopy mess really.  But with a little dab here, and a splotch there, I was starting to get into it.  I stopped focusing on the end product and started focusing on the process.  I was definitely feeling something, although if you asked me about it, I probably couldn’t put it into words.

Before I knew it, I was done.  Was it a masterpiece?  I don’t know.  But I was proud of it anyway.  I’d tried something that scared me.  And isn’t it the stuff we don’t know that scares us the most?

I’m not going to tell you what it means.  I’ll leave that up to you.  It was my husband who named it.  When he looked at it I turned the tables and asked HIM what he saw.  “Energy,” he said without batting an eyelash.  Okay, so I guess some people just get it right away 😉

The only thing about it I can tell you for sure is that I was grasping at something.  Something a little bit mysterious.  Something probably divine.


There’s a great article in the Nov. 2012 issue of EXPERIENCE L!FE magazine.  Maternity lifestyle expert Latham Thomas was interviewed about how women can get the most out of their pregnancy.  Check out Mama Glow, which features her new book with the same name.

As a writer, what I found most interesting was her comparison  of babies to ideas and how we, in a sense, give birth to them.  She likens the creative process to “wombifesting.”

LT– “It’s focusing on the womb, the place in the body that’s connected with everything we create, and understanding that everything is born from darkness…The energy here is always fluid and flowing; all you have to do is show up and lend yourself to the process…Womb-ifestation happens inside of you and then moves out into the world. The growth is not necessarily witnessed by others.”

Continuing with the brain paintings, here is my interpretation of this concept.

Calligraphy Ink on Mixed Media Paper

I call it: Incubation.  I feel a little like Victor in Frankenstein when I say that 😉  The interesting part about the process is that I used chopsticks with calligraphy ink to create this piece.  As you probably guessed, ink is quite permanent and chopsticks are not very precise.  It was very scary because I knew there wasn’t much I could do if I made a mistake.  At the same time, it was liberating to just create without relying too much on a given outcome.  What would be would be.  And that is at the heart of incubating an idea.  ❤