Paint Me a Me

I just finished a painting.  It took me all of an hour.  I suppose one might call it abstract, or perhaps experimental.  But what it really was, was therapeutic; not in the sense that it was meant to express, let alone cure, some deep seated anxiety or fear or such thing.  No, this was therapeutic in that other ancient meaning of therapy, which is “to serve” (found in the Christian Bible in Acts 17:25 wherein we witness the Greek antecedent for “therapy” to reference serving the gods).  Therapy, then, can do a service and the end served in this instance was a little joy, which came about as I painted for a bit without thought of subject matter.  I was in the moment, happy to wash colors around the canvass without the need to represent an image or express a feeling.  It was really about seeing colors brush up against colors.

Sometimes I need to explore doing per se, and bracket the point of the doing.  Sometimes I ache to rediscover the joy of color, of shape, of sound, of word.  Perhaps you too experience that desire to create without purpose beyond creation.  There is a certain euphoria that arrives with that license to attend to the physicality of sight, sound, smell and touch.  We are, after all, sensual people who live into the world by way of bodies that only know the world at the edge where I end and it begins.  Of course, edges are permeable and so I know, in the adventure of being open to the world, that as I go out into the world the world makes its way into me, in a fashion.

So, what of this world?  It is loved by the divine yet it can shipwreck our faith.  It provides fodder for the sacraments yet can pollute piety.  The world is a dangerous place yet sacred writ reminds us that the pivot that is change rarely occurs in sequestered sanctuaries where all is at peace – although such places, too, have a place in the life of the faithful.  Deserts, oceans, mountains, highways; these are the sites of insight.  We need to be “out there” – in the world by interaction and in the soul by creativity – to be fulfilled.  Creativity is a mode of adventure.  The word adventure, for good purpose, has hidden within it the Latin word venire meaning “to come.”

We “come to” in creativity: we come to our senses as a source of freedom.  Creativity frees us to be curious, and to wager a better me, a better world by being in the moment, by being in the canvas, on the page.  These three seem to come together for great purpose:  therapy, creation and curiosity.   In their interaction we take leave of self-obsession to the end that we can finally be more authentically. And so I know that my painting might not be great, but when I look at it I see me, smiling.

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17 thoughts on “Paint Me a Me

  1. Marie Taylor says:

    painting without a purpose is like becoming a child again. well done!

  2. dianerivers says:

    Isn’t it interesting – and even universal – that creative people draw nourishment from the euphoria of physicality uniquely expressed? So many interesting observations in this post!

  3. jannatwrites says:

    Creating just for the sake of creating- no vision, no rules- just colors… that is a great way to get in touch with our souls.

  4. I couldn’t improve upon these beautiful reflections, Allen. I was a Classical Studies minor and did my devotions with the koine in college. =) I’m so glad you got to share your special experience with us. The sharing is the rest of it, the art. =)

  5. shoreacres says:

    As I began reading, I was immediately taken to the past, to my first home’s sun room, where my toys were kept. I had an easel, a pad of paper, and finger paints. I still can smell them, and feel that slick, viscous paint beneath my hands.

    There weren’t any assignments. There wasn’t a deadline. What I painted didn’t have to be “realistic,” but it didn’t have to be anything. It was, no doubt, a way for my mother to keep me from under her feet for a while, but it was more: pure, unfettered enjoyment.

    I love this line: “We need to be “out there” – in the world by interaction and in the soul by creativity – to be fulfilled. ” I think one of our Christmas songs gets that just right: “let heaven and nature sing.”

    • agjorgenson says:

      Here is to more “pure, unfettered enjoyment”! At one level, an internal check says that this is selfish, or perhaps dangerous, but at another level I am aware that we all need a little freedom if we are going to sing along with heaven and nature!

  6. I wish you lots more of these permeable edges, Allen…

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