Today I painted the canvases thick. Red, Yellow, Blue. Zinc White. Galkyd Gel. Mix. Repeat. Gradually. Slowly. Until the deep rich darkness of the three primaries coupled with white blended down together and began to take on the appearance of think black ink. Not too purple, not too brown. Dark and heavy and viscus. It’s the color of black tar, of murk, of lurching echoes underneath the Milky Way night sky.
It longs to become clear fresh, crystal clean water, but for now ink it remains.
I have come to believe that it is not a mistake to sit in the dark ink places. Maybe, as Sister Glennon says, it's a response to being a sensitive soul in a messed up world. The veil of time that keeps us suspended in the ink needs to find expression. And that's okay. In fact it's a healthy and wholesome act. A vehicle to truth telling in a world largely more comfortable with glossy and perfect and presentable. Especially from a girl.
Because that girl has been called beauty. Skinny jean and hip enough to play a part with the arty girls, wearing oversized eyeglasses and dyed hair. Or she's felt that she needs to be jock enough in a man’s art world, speaking all moxie and bravado to be heard. And/or smart enough for the Deconstructionists, the philosophers, the smart people in the know. Or how about just sexy enough for plain good old fashioned advertising, let's just start there. Edited enough on Photoshop. A body with all the right proportions, a vehicle to sell. I would be remiss if I did not add a curated Facebook feed, complete with memes and updates at just the right times with just the right about of content. And on. And on. And on.
I’ve wanted to be something other. But what I’m finding is to be the dark ink. I want to look like the water. But that would be dishonest. Pretending. Because it’s not a mistake to be the ink. In the light, water may get the attention. It may speak to perfection. But in the ink is where the Know is. It's good soil for creativity if you let it be. And there is power in that.
Because I’m tired of putting on roles that don't fit, and never did.
Today, in the studio, a small dismantling of those roles took place, leaving me to speak from my voice. In writing these words, too. I need both paint and words just as much as the ink to make them.
If this is you, if you have been feeling like ink when all you want is to be the water, then let’s find places to dismantle together, you and me.
Because that is where the life is.
For further resources and reading, and to connect with others who are finding their voices through dismantling, I recommend:
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue, The Artist's Way by Julie Cameron, The Poems of Mary Oliver, especially The Journey. Shauna Niequist quotes this poem in her new book Present Over Perfect, which is wonderful as well. Anything written by Brene Brown, especially Daring Greatly. These authors have taught me so much about being brave. It's possible to be in this world and do the work that brings you to life. In fact, I believe we are wired and created for it.