I've been playing with paint. I've not ever worked with paint and lately it's been speaking to me quite strongly. At this point (as with all points really) I'm experimenting - watercolours, acrylics, house- paint...whatever happens to be around. I've rolled out large sheets of old wallpaper lining on the floor of my studio, put on music of my mood, and allowed the paint to dance.
These 'sketches' are of a larger scale than I normally work, which has felt wonderful. Painting lends itself to open gestures that I don't normally get to experience when working with my other media. Working with paint is also so much messier than working with textiles and thread and wood and it's been great fun to embrace that, as well.
I often find this time of the year to be a real test of patience. Spring is sort of here. The rhubarb in my garden has lovely green and burgundy coloured shoots, daffodils are starting blossom, there are growing iris shoots which will soon be taking over the entire pond, proudly flaunting their deep purpleness.
It's grey and rainy.
My mood right now is much the same, truth be told. Spring is sort of here. My own creative energies blossom in increments but then recede back into the bud. I try not to feel the 'stuckness' of this process. I try to remember that these feelings will change and then...
It's grey and rainy.
These are the times when I must be gentle with myself and acknowledge thatmy own deep colours are always here, even if they don't have the energy right now to burst forth.
I recently discovered this beautiful poem by Tara Sophia Mohr and with another few days of rain in the forecast it is just what I needed to read.
“Beyond the cackling of the birds
and all the fighting, and all the noise-
What else is there?
The oak tree’s heart, which says:
Glory is. Wholeness is.
And unavoidably, my dear, you are part
Problemlessness. I know- you couldn’t
hear it before,
I've been working this week from inside a cozy little place on the Blindern Campus in Oslo. I've named it the 'Magpie House'.
Outside, in the grey weather and the white snow, two of these lovely, funny birds have been hopping around collecting bits to build a nest in the eaves of one of the windows outside my room.
Inside, where it's more colourful, I've been hopping around with a random selection of paper, thread, and a bag of mixed textile pieces I brought along.
Much like the magpies, I'm working with the materials in my immediate environment - a thread here, a piece of wool, there. They sense what they will want to use to build their nest. I sense what I will want to use to build mine.
After much time experimenting on the computer with Photoshop I'm back in the studio, making.
The act of touching the materials I hold so dear - cloth, thread, wood, etc. has a distinctly therapeutic effect on me. I return to my appreciation of simplicity and I take those gentle steps towards building a relationship with myself and the objects I encounter along the way.
In thinking about this process and how I might write about it on this blog post, the phrase 'touching the earth' popped into my head. As I sometimes do when these phrases come to mind I 'Google' them to see what comes up. Touching the Earth brought up the following mindfulness practice from Thich Nhat Hanh at his Plum Village website:
The practice of Touching the Earth is to return to the Earth, to our roots, to our ancestors, and to recognize that we are not alone but connected to a whole stream of spiritual and blood ancestors. We are their continuation and with them, will continue into the future generations. We touch the earth to let go of the idea that we are separate and to remind us that we are the Earth and part of Life.
When we touch the Earth we become small, with the humility and simplicity of a young child. When we touch the Earth we become great, like an ancient tree sending her roots deep into the earth, drinking from the source of all waters. When we touch the Earth, we breathe in all the strength and stability of the Earth, and breathe out our suffering- our feelings of anger, hatred, fear, inadequacy and grief.
Our hands join to form a lotus bud and we gently lower ourselves to the ground so that all four limbs and our forehead are resting comfortably on the floor. While we are Touching the Earth we turn our palms face up, showing our openness to the three jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. After one or two times practicing Touching the Earth (Three Touchings or Five Touchings), we can already release a lot of our suffering and feeling of alienation and reconcile with our ancestors, parents, children, or friends.
I'm grateful to have found this humble reminder that we are not separate - as much as our minds seem to like to tell us we are. We simply need to continue to practice touching the earth.