You Are Not Your Painting!

You are not your painting!

Mistakenly believing that we are what we paint is the origin of all creative blocks.

The creative force is like a beam of light: one moment it may focus on a flower or a god, the next moment on the underworld or the mud. With its illuminating rays it explores the whole universe, inner and outer, teaching consciousness to go beyond what it expects. Nothing is too ugly or too sacred for it.

You are not defined by what the beam of light reveals. You do not need to stop and take snapshots as if these images are dramatically important statements about who you are. Who you are cannot be reduced to a series of positive and negative statements. To think that a piece of paper with colors can define you is an affront to the mystery of life.

We tend to identify with the last image, the last costume, the last painting that appears, good or bad. Why cry about the dark ones and swell with pride over the good looking ones? Identification encloses us in a self-image. When the self-image of a painter is present, painting becomes stale. Nothing new passes the tight border of known labels. Mistakenly believing that we are what we paint is the origin of all creative blocks. 

Who you really are is uncapturable except for its spirit, which appears in the life of an honest stroke of paint!

If we are what paints instead of what is painted, let’s stop wasting energy and time on the product. Life is movement; it won’t be found in anything static. Whatever we think about the painting will only increase our partial knowledge, which is already overextended. Adding new bits to it won’t help. We need a different kind of knowing, one that develops through nonverbal creation. Why not let the painting play out its comedy and drama while we enjoy the show? If the process wants to point out aspects of our personality, it will do so through insight, not through deduction or analysis. The creative process wants us to come back to who we really are, beyond any definition or frame.

Ultimately, you can paint only what you are not. The pot is not the water it contains. The river is not what it carries. Who you really are is uncapturable except for its spirit, which appears in the life of an honest stroke of paint, whatever its content.

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This article is adapted from the book Life, Paint and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression, co-authored by Stewart Cubley.

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