I started experimenting with color this weekend. The paintbrush is a foreign instrument. I prefer pens. You can control them. They are precise.
Paintbrushes are the opposite. Flimsy and loose. You can’t stop the red from bleeding off the lips and on to the chin. Kind of like when you apply too much lipstick. It gets on your teeth, smears your upper lip. It’s a mess, but even lipstick comes in a tube and can be applied between the lines.
My relationship to painting and painting instruments is young. Like where I once was with writing and writing instruments. When I was in college my handwriting was small and compact. People I studied with commented on how tidy my class notes were, and I was popular with students who made a habit of missing class.
Now, with so many years of writing under my belt, my handwriting is big and loopy. I sometimes can’t read it myself. I still start out small but once I get going in a piece, my hand loosens up. It has to to keep up with my thoughts.
I watch my daughter when she paints. She finishes a painting in ten or fifteen minutes. She never stays between the lines. Colors bleed. Sometimes the black sky dominates. Her paintings are beautiful. She tells me, “Look, Mom,” and then she says, “I like this one.”
When I was her age I was already a perfectionist. My parents encouraged me to be a realist. The more life-like my houses–with their three-dimensional roofs–the more encouragement I received. Grade school teachers, too, handed out gold stars for stiff, upright trees and intact, smiling families standing in a row.
I picked up drawing last summer after years of hiatus. I’m still tight with my hand; hence, the doodles. Just finish the piece, I tell myself. Finish it, turn the page, do the next one.
I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with my art but publish it on this blog. I’m not worrying about it much right now. The blog at least has me drawing again. And it’s getting me curious about the paint stuff. Color, hue, tone, and the brushes. Wow. The variety is endless.
Mostly I’m sick of not coloring outside the lines. It’s become metaphor for the way I sometimes live my life. Cautiously. I’m ready to let go.