Sarah, a little tired, a little blue, but most of all wise and true…
I have been painting nearly non-stop during the day. When my brain is soft-ish, and it’s hard to concentrate, and I badly need new glasses (I have an appointment on Thursday.) so my eyes are easily strained and reading much is wearisome, sitting and painting, working with acrylics right now, is a blessing, and being an Outsider Artist, one who is self-taught and works outside the mainstream art world, is a way of being fully myself, of celebrating the parts of me that few understand, expressing the way I see and feel the world, and it feels so good. My bipolar brain seems to come together more easily when I paint, and the lush, sensual acrylics sliding and gliding, over the rough spots in life and under the limbo poles that appear everywhere, and around the places I don’t understand that feel like they will pull me down into the abyss, this is the world of Outsider Art, at least it is for me.
I am getting freer. Letting go of preconceived notions about the way things are “supposed” to look can be dicey, and frightening. Nothing scarier than trusting your inner voice when the ones outside are often so much louder. “THAT’S NOT THE WAY YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!” That particular phrase I’ve heard my whole life long about all manner of things, most especially art, so that I was nearly 60 before I finally allowed myself to just GO for it, and go for it I did, and my painting now is a celebration of trusting myself.
I have been working in several mediums these last two years, starting with over a year of concentrating on working in pastels, and then returning to watercolor and pen and ink which I’d dabbled in for years, but when I found my way to acrylics it’s like the sky opened up and I could see everything. My Outsider Art is done in acrylics. For me watercolor is too refined for the Outsider work that I do and pastels don’t touch what I feel. When I am painting in acrylics everything opens up and I can let my imperfect, lopsided, cattywompus self out onto the canvas, she who usually tries to hide because she is not enough or too much and never really fits in anywhere. Outsider Art was just made for one such as me.
This morning I am painting Mona and this is what I wrote about her…
“Painting Mona. The thing I have fully embraced as an Outsider artist is the freedom to see through a child’s eyes and maintain the purity and sweetness of that vision. Mona is what the old folks called simple, and she is the kindest, gentlest, happiest woman anyone has ever met and now, at 50, as when she was a little girl, her favorite things to do are blowing bubbles and chasing butterflies. She has a lot to teach us all.”
Allowing Mona to have that child-like look and feel while still looking like a woman made me really feel who she is inside. She is very dear to me and is teaching me many things as I work on her painting. I always hear the subject of the painting speaking to me when I paint, little whispers from angels perhaps, comforting, inspiring, lovely.
And then the angels. I have done 4 angels and plan to do more. They just delight me. I call them Archangels and they are female. I can’t believe there wouldn’t be feminine angels here to help and protect us. (Two were in a previous post.)
I am finding painting to be the best therapy that I have had in ages, and it is so much a part of my life now that I know it will be here forever. Words can be hard when the brain is struggling so writing comes more in fits and starts. I have painted at night when I could not sleep, painted early in the morning after caring for the animals before having coffee or breakfast, I paint during the day and it seems to pull together all the bits and parts of my bipolar self so that we become all of a piece again.
I don’t live by anyone else’s rules because I have had to carve a life out for myself that allows me to live my life in the way that I best can to be as whole as possible and as well as I can be. I live outside the box and my art lives here too. And I have sold a painting to a woman in England and that feels glorious. The affirmation meant the world to me. It was my painting called “Spiralling.”
So on I go, back to Mona’s world of butterflies, bubbles, and simple joys. It is such a sweet place to be. Artists can create worlds where there were none. I am creating a world of peace and happiness with a paintbrush in hand, pugs on my feet (as I type a soft warm furry person is laying on my bare feet with the other 3 crowded in around) and Miss Scarlet, my grey parrot, who talks or sings or just sits in silent companionship. The garden outside beckons me to come and get the last of the bulbs and seeds in, and it smells like heaven outside, spring’s perfume. But Outsider Art is an inside job, so I pick up my paintbrush and begin again.