At the Start of Every Painting...

The start of every painting used to be very difficult for me. I admit now that was probably because I was not very familiar with my craft of my artistic formula. What I mean by that is that it takes a lot of time and experimentation to truly know your formula. You experiment and experiment, kind of accept works, kind of don’t until one day you reach this point where you know what you’re doing. Even when there is room for error or “least change in direction” as I like to call it, you at least feel comfortable with where you’re going.

Don’t rush the process or force it to happen. Just keep practicing and working through. This is another example as why I feel yoga and meditation are so aligned to the practice of creating art.

Your first few yoga classes feel dreadful. It’s maybe even hard and you don’t feel like you’re getting any result. Maybe it was even more anxiety-driven when you thought or were told it’d be relaxing. Same with meditation: forcing yourself to sit still and bring your mind to a blank may be more stressful than actually doing it. But with practice, both start to develop and ease. All of a sudden you move through a yoga class with flow and are able to disconnect your thoughts from the discomfort certain poses may present to you. There is a more ethereal understanding of time and you find yourself outside of your own body.

Painting is the same way for me. I used to force it. Try to make something I envisioned in my head without really knowing how to get there. Now I’m familiar with a base. Fundamentals. I know how to move through with my materials to practice at a higher level of ease and separation from my consciousness. The entire process is pleasant and connective, rather than daunting. It still challenges me, but in different ways.

Part of my formula includes:

  1. Swatching for color and translucently. I have a formula of how I’m mixing my paints figured out before I begin therefore eliminating some of the variables.

  2. Stretching my own canvas. There’s not lighter way to say it: I like to man-handle the canvas myself before I paint it. This helps me feel more connected energetically to the canvas before it becomes an extension of myself. In a way, we are working together.

  3. Meditation & energy clearing. I set everything up before I actually paint. It’s kind of like an intimate performance. Or like a meditation practice: you want your mat and blankets and bolster to be just right so that you’re comfortable throughout the practice. For painting I need space: on the wall and on the floor as I alternate between the two in different stages of my process. I also need to have more than one canvas ready to go as I work simultaneously as one layer dries. I can move to another canvas. I cleanse the room with palo santo to rev up my feminine energy streams and curate the type of music I want to be listening to. I think about food and tea - what am I putting into my body to fuel before this extension of energy releases. And I take the time to meditate and/or do kriyas to get my energy to where it needs to be. That does not always translate to “calming my energy”. Many times it is actually breaths of fire and dancing to reggaeton before I get started.