Michael Divine

How to be a Painter III

It’s quite simple really – you just pick up the brush and you start. But when to start? Start before you get caught up elsewhere, before you get distracted, before the computer phone doorbell cat dog moth flies in your ear and whispers that there is something so important to do and is somewhere else and you had better do right fucking now. There will always be that thing that needs to get done right now. I’ve got a thousand of them, at least. And they get done, one by one. Always. Trust me. So forget about it. Just for a little bit. Let it pass through your mind but don’t engage it. It will be there when you get to it. If need be, keep a piece of paper next to you while you paint and if you think of that thing that you had better do, write it down! Then, when you are done painting, take a look there and, if you see what you need to do, then do it! In the meantime, engage the image, the paint, the lines and circles, the gradients and textures. Let yourself become immersed in it. If even for just a moment you forget about all else, and you, the rhythm of your hand, the color on the brush, the way it lays upon the canvas, the way you stand there, with your head cocked slightly – if even a millisecond a space is allowed to open between thought and thought and awareness creeps through, catches a glimpse of the YOU of  all Yous – then you might want to consider the night a success. But if that thought stream doesn’t pause, doesn’t cease it’s endless I Me Mine then what are you gonna to do? I’ll be honest- some of my sweetest work came about when I wasn’t looking. When I suddenly noticed I wasn’t looking, wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing, was in the groove of thought, of music, of poetry if rhythm… even then… it is all the same river you see- the thought stream, the vision, the glimpse of You, the wide open long-range vista of Awareness with a capital A, the pain in your lower back from bending over for so long, the kink in your neck, the thought once again of all you really must need go DO. Yet, in the storm of all of that – of the grinding political storm – keep your hand supple- almost drop the brush all the time, allow it to rest there but don’t grip it, a gripped brush has no give. Every ounce of you ought to be like the fabled reed in the wind- making music in the river of breezes. Know when to change colors- when to add some purple, some magenta – the deep magenta, not the light magenta. Know why you are doing so. Be true to your color palette of choice- if you are going for earth tones- go with earth tones! But if a dash of light magenta or bright turquoise wants to step in and add itself- check it at the door, make sure it has an invitation. Intuition is the gate keeper here and if Intuition says c’mon in, then by all means Let It! You might be surprised the spice it might add to the party on the canvas. That’s the funny thing about painting, about creating, about life- intuition is the gate keeper but there is another who would seek to wear that mask although it wears that mask beneath many others and it has a penchant for turning everyone away.Ultimately, it is only known as Fear. It is Illusion. It is the fear of being wrong, of making a mistake, of being too much or too little, fear of everything, fear of nothing. Fear that the magenta is a fools color and not to be taken seriously. Fear that your parents never liked turquoise. Fear that your loved one might come in behind you and say “WTF?! Lemon Yellow eyes?” Cause they just might. But intuition, especially if it’s been given a chance to stretch it’s wings, will never steer you wrong. Go with it. Trust me. Trust it. It’s like riding a bike. Of course, those first few times of riding that bike were a bit unsteady. So were, sometimes, those first times of trying to discern which was the voice of intuition and which was otherwise. One moment you’re listening to the Guiding Light, the Chief Principle, the next moment the voice of fear has shoved it’s way into the game and is wearing a mask that looks suspiciously similar but… So watch your mind! Watch where it leads you. It is not your mind that paints. Nor is it your heart. Nor your hand. Your whole being paints. By being the whole being, by letting your big toe paint, the tip of your ears, your breath- then you can truly realize the vision you seek. So you paint and grab those colors and splash them upon the canvas in well mannered daubs and violent eruptions. You watch lines form, and follow their curve, zigging left when it need to go left, zagging right when the time is right. Such is life.

But then you stop and you stop before your colors become mud, unless mud is really what you are after. And if you weren’t after mud but they became that anyways- who cares? There will be another chance, another time to paint. Another chance to coax diamonds from that mud.

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