In my upstairs bedroom, I have a large south-facing window that looks unto a majestic honey locust tree. She looms over my balcony with delicate quivering leaves. In the summer, a deep sap green; in the fall, golden yellow. As of now, her leaves have begun their departure as the post-fall winds will leave her bare.
I want to be more like her, anchored and organized in her rhythm of time. But, I am not like her. I am messy, and more than I care to admit, ungrounded and often an enemy of time.
Over the years, I have come to realize that this beingness of mine is where the primary thrust of my creativity comes from. Even at eight and nine years old, I remember ferociously scribbling on paper in what resembled abstracted tangled knots in the shape of ovals. I then set myself the task of filling in the gaps with multi-colored ink pens, searching out the order in my chaos.
We all have dominant ways of being in this world. And in being human, crave to know the “other.” It’s the magnetic force of opposites attracting in relationships. I have witnessed that search for the “other” in my teaching practice. I somehow give permission for the mess, as participants search to expand their boundaries of known expression.
Recently, I have come across three styles of being that make sense in not only the context of relationship, but in the way we can describe the order of creating, especially in the context of viewing the organizational sense of a painting or composition.
In a book entitled, “Wired For Love,” psychologist Stan Catkin describes three poignant visual metaphors for distinctive ways of being in the world: Anchors. Islands. Waves.
Three nouns that not only provide us access into a deeper understanding of feeling, but also three symbols that work in the visual narration of describing the principals of design.
In a painting, we look for an anchor that might hold our attention in space. A wave moves our eye along so we are not stuck on one aspect in a composition, moving our direction and flow, and islands create the content, the main event.
It’s a generalization, but in the sphere of human interaction, anchors search out ways to loosen their grip and move into bolder expression, islands explore different terrain, i.e., materials and content to work, and waves work to hone in their emotion and focus.
I am a messy, emotional wave. I search out anchors to bring me back to intention and islands so I might have something to crash into. In an ideal world, it’s like my honey locust tree, longing to sway with grace when change comes, yet remain fully present and grounded while recognizing the importance of our form and content and as a gift to the world. A steady pace with the natural order of things, our environments, and each other.
Soul Work in Action: Exploring Women's Spiritual Hunger with Paint November 2nd and 3rd, 2018