Kneeling before Him...



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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Most days this week I have tried to write a post on how I paint and I can't. I don't know why, but each time I write it, it sounds so boringly dreary, like someone is reading it in a monotone in my head. It is strange to me because I feel such passion for the things that I paint. It is always hard for me to hand over a piece even if I have painted it for a client.

Mac says that I pour my heart into my paintings and I guess He is right, the same way that I pour my heart out here. With all this pouring one would think that I would run out of heart but it seems to replenish itself overnight. I will say though, that I am limited to a certain amount each day. For instance when I have written here, I find it very hard to answer emails. It's like my writing pool has dried up. I think I disappoint people when they have written to me with such passion about something I have said in the blog and I just don't have it in me to be passionate back to them. The best I can do is thank them. It is not that I don't feel it, I do, I feel very grateful that I was able to touch them, very pleased that they feel what I write and flattered that they took the time to let me know, it is just that my ability to express it is gone.

I can go from here and turn to my easel and express my passion in paint and I can feel full again, but if I turn back to the writing even after that, I can't let it spill onto the page. I know that I haven't written anything today so I should be able to write about painting, but I still can't. It is almost as though I have to keep the two separate. So here is a most unpassionate quick view into my painting.

I have only been painting for four years and making money from it for about 18 months. I have no clue why but it comes so easily to me. I slip into my own little world where everything I look at breaks down into shadows, colours, and lines. I can't see the petals in a flower, but I see the way the light is eaten by the curve of white to become a subtle shade of green. I don't see fairies' faces, but I see the shadows on them that defines a nose. I don't see dragon's scales, but I can see a tiny light shiny with gold on top, black as night below. The thing that I find funniest about this is that I cannot draw. I have tried and everything just comes out flat. That's if I manage to get the shape at all. When I have a pencil in my hand I am incapable of breaking things down. I try to draw the whole object and end up tossing things away in disgust. But give me a paintbrush and well, it just works for me.

I have painted in watercolours, but hated it. I guess I would compare it to always having sex in missionary position in the dark, with most of your clothes on. It's kind of like drawing for me, I can't get the paint to flow and build and shape. I make many mistakes when I am painting and am constantly building down into the shadows and up into the light. I have to be able to add and remove layers, play with the colour, move it around and the watercolours just sort of sit still.

Oil paints are gorgeous. Such rich colours, such brilliance on canvas, I sometimes wish I could roll the textures over my skin. Oil colours fill my senses and leave me weak. They are like a vicious lover that takes everything from you and leaves you lying empty on the floor. You know you will hurt for days when it is over and that a part of you will want to keep pressing on the bruises to stop them from healing the way they should. The trouble I have with oil paints is that there is too much time to change it. I am a perfectionist and after I say a painting is done, I will walk away and come back hours later and look at it fresh and change a few things, sometimes I will still be coming back days later and adding a little colour here or there to tone back and area, or bring an area out. With oil paints I found that I was able to do too much and all the paint would smoosh together and I would ruin it AFTER it was complete. (Smoosh is a very good painting word. I often am just smooshing in a little bit of colour or a shadow or some light. I guess it means I am pushing in the paint.)

So most of the time I use acrylics. They don't have the brilliance of oil paints, or the texture, they are more like the boyfriend you had in back in high school. You loved him and adored him but you never got past the kissing stage and you look back on it with fondness, knowing that it was passionate, but somehow innocent and sweet. I manage to stuff up much less that way. I know acrylics are an easy way out, kind of a cheat, but honestly, I am no Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci. None of my paintings are ever going to win awards or be part of anyone's collection of fine art. I am just Sarah, the girl who paints well enough for friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends to pay her so that they can hang one of her paintings on their wall.

I do not make a lot of money out of this. If it wasn't for Mac's income we would be homeless and starving (of course Mac is starving anyway, that is His constant state, but at least we have food in the house) but it was never supposed to be about the money. I do it because I love to do it, because it makes me happy while I am painting and because it delights me when someone is genuinely pleased with something I have done. (Not that I ever feel the need to please!) The money just gives me a little bit of independence inside of the dependence on Mac, some spending money of my own.

I guess this is a part of me that I find hard to express in words. I kind of wish I had a paintbrush here.

Posted by Sarah McBroden at 7:11 am

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