Color Outside The Lines

This painting is one of my favorites.

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I count it as among my best work. I painted it when I was 5 years old. Probably after seeing the Nutcracker Ballet with my head full of thoughts of being a ballerina. I was thinking of that twirling motion, the tutu, arms held high, posture firm but delicate, not rigid. How did I manage to encompass all that as a 5 year old? because I wasn't thinking about making it great or how it would look when it was done. I was just remembering and feeling, letting my feelings guide my hands.   

People often think abstract painting is easy "My 6 year old kid could do that" or hard " I could never do that". So which is it? Easy or hard? Both. It is easy because there's nothing to compare it to like a painting of an apple should look like an apple. Just make a mark, throw some paint down. (OK, it's not really that easy, but you get the idea.) The hardest part is letting go of the limitations we set for ourselves or allow others to set for us. A painting has to be beautiful, it should be about something recognizable, it should be "good", color in the lines, no scribbling etc., etc. The foundation for most of my work is breaking the rules. I love to scribble and make a mess. Usually the best work comes when I am frustrated (because I'm trying to make it "good") and then  say "whatever" with a bit of attitude. Thats when the fun begins and the painting starts to be good. Because I stop trying to make it good. It's so hard for me to wrap my brain around that idea that I have to keep relearning it over and over again.

But there's a better reason to break the rules than to make a good painting. That feeling that immediately follows taking a risk, using a weird color or a making big fat mark on top of that beautiful, delicate painting, is exhilarating! (I often say in my head "Yup! I just DID that!) I feel like there are no bounds that can hold me (momentarily anyway), I feel a little superhuman. 

So I recommend breaking the rules. Color outside the lines. Wear stripes with polka dots. Go sky diving (Well, that last one does makes me a little queasy). Do something you are a little afraid to do and go at it with abandon. And leave a comment about how it goes!


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