I've found that these days, the backing paper, spread out to protect a rug quickly bought at IKEA, is where most of the magic is happening. There's something about not being restricted to the side of a journal page or spread, yet the art, the process, and eventual journaling are all an echo of the work I've done inside books for over a decade. When you can spread out, you have more room to move - get the paint on your hands and get your body involved in the motions of spreading paint or ink. The layers on my hands resemble the layers of Fordite, the "stones" created from years of paint being spread on the floor of an automobile assembly plant, and I wear them with pride for about half of my work day.
Despite the physical issues I've been having with my spine, I now paint kneeling or sitting cross-legged on the floor, my palms spreading paint. There's no pressure - this isn't an art journal page to post, or expensive paper. It doesn't react the same way as mixed-media or watercolor paper would, but that's ok. It's just an inexpensive roll of drawing paper. Make a mess and move on. Experiment. Let every little "what if...?" in your head come to life: what if I spread glue over chalk pastels? What if I draw simple faces? What if I layer this paper or that piece of trim? All of these thoughts get expressed on the floor in front of me, and as of now, I am making the kind of art I've always wanted to create.
Just took a decade to get here.
And that's what I want you to remember: art is just like anything else; the more you practice, the more you improve.
I mean, look at me. I've taken one art class in my life, a drawing course at the community college years ago. Everything else I've learned by observing others or experimenting myself. And I keep at it, even if I feel like what I'm making is terrible. You have to battle through the years of not measuring up to your own taste (watch this short video of Ira Glass explaining the gap - it will change how you look at what you're creating). Do I see the way things aren't quite right due to perspective? Sure I do! But do I care? No! Because this is MY art - my shaking hands, my overactive nerves, my colors and faces and process. I love getting stuck in the flow of creating because the pain goes away. The grief flutters above me like a beautiful butterfly. The Divine is able to help me express my heart - the same Divine that crafted stars and nebula and you and me. Whenever I feel the muse has left me, I allow the Divine to use my hands - if they can create the beauty of the stars and the moon and the sea, it can definitely help me paint.
Most of the time, the words just come to me. I can't explain where they come from. I just feel them in my heart and write them down. And that's when the breakthrough happens - the emotions spill over and are given voice. I am often surprised by the words that are written, and feel, sometimes, that the unconscious mind is giving me a glimpse of what's under the surface.
It's a release, to be sure. Of movement, of existing in my body, of being mindful in the present moment. I'm sure I sound like a madwoman, cackling and laughing as I play, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
How do you get through a creative block? How does art allow you to be present in the NOW? How can working big or on "cheaper" paper change your creative process?