How to destroy a painting-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I rediscovered painting almost a year ago after I finally reached my fifth year in remission post-chemotherapy (yes, I had cancer) and one month post-bariatric surgery (morbidly obese all my life; now I’m just, well, plain obese. I think. hahaha). There had been so much pent up emotions, good and bad, that I felt I needed a way of expressing it in a form that I could see so that I can easily validate it. Being able to muster the courage to create art has been a building desire that I have always denied myself, until I found the encouragement I needed to do it.
Boy, it sure wasn’t easy! I may have been an Art Studies Major in college but that gave me art theories and history, not art-making! I was trained to admire and critique, not create, art. But I love it! It’s just that my recent experiences in life and my brushes with death fanned an old ‘want’ (to paint) into a ‘need’ (to express emotions through painting). WT.
But I did have some actual art lessons, mind you. I took art classes for two years (fine, two summers and a handful of Saturdays) since I was six years old; after which I finally convinced myself that I cannot draw, much less paint! (I was nine years old.) And so that was that. Well right until November of last year.
So. A few days ago, I was painting. You could say I was going through the process of having my feelings splashed across a canvas. It was a struggle but after much ado, I finally thought I had succeeded doing it, took a picture of it and went to bed. When I woke up, I looked at it and my heart sank. The ultramarine blue had ceased to be that loud, happy, vibrant color I last saw before I slept. Before me was a painting with dull, black-blue brushstrokes. It looked like my painting drowned and died while I was asleep. Haaay. I wanted to change things up again but I knew that it just might end up worse than it already was so I decided to just let it be.
Basically, it felt like I was being smothered each time I went past the painting. This went on the whole day. Torture, torture, mental torture.
So, after more mental torture, I gave in and sat with the painting, staring at it and conjuring my game plan. I decided that I would paint over it and start anew but somehow, when I got up to get my paint and brushes, I came back to ‘kill’ the painting. Instead of just painting over it, I decided I was going to remove the layers of paint one at a time the best that I could, using my destruction tool of choice: a palette knife. Anyway, as it has caused me much anguish, why not seek revenge? As I peeled off the layers of paint, I began to realize that it reminded me about life. And onions.
Dismantling what I created, my palette knife dug between the layers of paint. In the process, I began to think that life is much like a painting. The painter may have the brushes and makes the decisions about what to paint and how to paint but there are other things that affect what goes on the canvas other than his ideas, and choices. Just like life there are moments in the creative process where the creation seems to take on a life of its own! The parallelism took me quite by surprise!
Here’s what I realized while I was deconstructing my painting:
1. We can plan life as much as we can, what we can’t do is expect things to work out every single time. It just does not work that way. Of course, we would love for things to be that way but well, it is not. We have to allow considerable latitude for uncontrollable, unavoidable events some latitude. Is there such a thing as over-planning? Well, I call it biting off more than what you can chew. They always say to reach for the stars so that when you don’t get it you still end up in the heavens. Well, they forgot to mention too that falling can still hurt badly when you anything at a tremendous speed. So know your strengths and weaknesses.
2. We do what we can to make things better. Yes. We always try to remedy whatever ugly event we go through. It is human nature to do something when you know you can do something! That disconcerting feeling we get when we let the ominous continue is just too uncomfortable to ignore. It is hard to pretend when the issue keeps making itself known and when it is actually staring at your face. Agree? Exactly how I felt when I was painting. I just kept pushing and pushing until I went past the point of no return..and landed on the abyss of regret. Ugh.
3. Know when to stop and do so..please. We often get caught in the moment when we are trying to achieve our dreams. This is also true when we are trying to fix things. Admit it. There is a point where you KNOW that you had to stop. Well, I kept going and going (and still at it). Stopping really is not tantamount to quitting. Think of it as taking a step back and examining what you have done so far. It will give you better insight and ideas on how to proceed when you do.
Much like my painting, happy moments can fade into something bleak. There are times they seem even gloomier against the backdrop of memories that radiate much more cheer than what we are presently experiencing. We are constantly reminded of happier days and we cannot help but wish we were back in time beside ourselves with joy, rather than in the present feeling blue and all alone. Much like my painting, when we choose to make the changes we need, we have to do so with full awareness that at some point, we need to step back and allow for some time to pass. I tried to fix what made my painting so menacingly unacceptable that I wanted to destroy it! But you know, when I took the time to just let it sit, I figured I could still do something about it so it did not end up under a new coat of white gesso!
Life is a colorful onion. Layers of colors both bright and dark, interspersed and interlocked to make sense out of our existence; making our lives, lived. These experiences that we go through, they make up what our lives are made of and whether they are good or bad, they instill in us the changes that help us survive better. Think of the sky, its magnificent vastness that cover us day in, day out. Think how rainbows make it even more splendid! It certainly adds to the beauty, right? And yet sometime we forget that rainbows are made when rain splits the sun’s rays into diff’rent colors! It is just like our challenges in life, it brings out the goodness of living!
Happy Kadayawan and a Joyous Sunday Everyone! :)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 18, 2013.