Art is truth

There is a meaning, expression, sadness, hope and a beauty that comes to life when I paint. There is a power in it. Thoughts and dreams that don’t have words yet, have forms and colors. These forms and colors are what I paint. They are my future, my past and my present. They just are. When I finish a painting, I feel a little sadness because I have to let it go. I have to let it stand alone and see if it is accepted. Paintings are like ideas that I hold close to my heart, the difference is that a painting is a physical representation of an idea. People may not like my paintings, but they still exist. An idea can disappear if others reject it, paintings can’t. They are my permanent ideas about life.

3 years ago I gave up drinking and laid on my couch watching Sex and the City reruns as that is all my brain could handle. I was healing, body and soul. I needed that time just to turn my brain off and contemplate life. I was exhausted. My mom had died 3 months earlier and I had been drinking steadily since I heard the news. I wasn’t there when she died. We weren’t close. Her death was like someone suddenly turning off loud music that had been blasting in my ears my whole life. The music made me edgy but also gave me energy. It was not a good energy though. It was an energy that I needed in order to drown out her loud music, and find a way to move forward alone.

My art was forgotten when I left my parents house, as I was in survival mode. There was no time for creativity. I kept thinking that as soon as I was comfortable and safe that I would revisit my creative side. There would be weekends or evenings that I would pick up a pencil and draw for a few hours, but it never lasted. There were brief creative moments in the hustle of my life to make money and be comfortable. I know now that I didn’t need to wait. I could have been creating art my whole life. There is nothing comfortable about creating, so I am not sure why I was waiting to be comfortable to create. Now I see that it doesn’t make sense. Why did it take my mom dying for me to truly rediscover my writing, my art, my painting? Why did my mom’s death make me feel like I had been dropped from an airplane with no parachute, and somehow I landed safely on the ground with no broken bones, but extremely exhausted and confused.

I have been reminiscing about these things this week since it is also the year anniversary of me drawing again. A year ago on April 1st, I posted my first pen and ink drawing of a lady to Instagram. At that time, I was just hoping that it would get a couple likes, and wouldn’t get completely ignored. I was pleasantly surprised how many people did like it, and that encouraged me to post more. But it never even crossed my mind that less than a year later someone would pay me to draw a illustration for them. It has been an amazing journey of acceptance and beauty for me. Life has changed in a way that I never imagined. And now as I sit here and write this, I wonder what this next year holds for me. I can’t know now what that will be. All I can do is keep painting, drawing and writing a little every day from my truth and my heart and see where it goes. I feel the meaning in it. When I paint I feel like I transcend my current life and cross into another world. I enter the unknown, uncharted, yet to be discovered as I dip my paintbrush into the paint and put it on my blank canvas. Where there was once white, now there is color and forms, and a meaning, and a future.

Last Spring Break when I started drawing again, and I wrote a post about it. It is called, ‘Sometimes happiness costs $9.99’ because that is how much my drawing pencils cost me. At the same time that I bought those drawing pencils I bought 6 small canvases with the intent to paint. Those canvases have sat on my shelf for a full year, until this weekend. I started painting again this weekend. I am not sure if I get a little high from the smell of the acrylic paint, but once I start painting I am lost to it. What I mean is, nothing else matters. I forget to eat, talk, sleep and even take a shower. While I am painting, I think, ‘oh I will just finish this part’, and then 3 hours later I am still sitting there painting. Dishes undone, laundry piling up, cat unfed and I am painting. This is why I stayed away from it when my daughter was younger because I know I become obsessed. Once I start, I can’t stop. I am not sure why painting has this affect on me. Drawing is relaxing, painting feels like life or death.

I even put off writing this blog so that I could paint. Usually my blog comes before my art. So, now I am writing my blog on Sunday evening, I am tired, and I have work tomorrow. What did I gain from painting all day? Was it worth it to fill my day up with drop cloths, canvases, thick acrylic paints, different size paint brushes and sponges? I could have gone for a walk in the sunshine, maybe done some gardening. I could have at least gone to the grocery store to get some food. But the paint won. The paint took me over and pulled me in. The blank canvases challenged me, and I took them up on the challenge. What is it about spreading the paint on the canvas that speaks to me, that gets to my very core and mesmerizes me? People and situations come into my mind that I haven’t thought about for years when I am painting. But nothing stays. My brain is light and airy, and thoughts float through me. I am only focussed on the picture that I am creating. I am creating a painting for me. But it can only really come to life when others look at it.

I am starting to realize that my art is my truth. When my mom was alive, I was living a lie and not talking about my abusive childhood for fear of repercussions. I started this journey with my blog, and writing about the truth of my past. In doing that I opened the door to my creativity. Art is honest, it is real, it can’t be created in a lie or people will see right through it. I couldn’t create when my mom was alive because a part of me was living a lie, and now I am not. Now I tell the truth with my words, with my art, and with my life.

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    1. Hi Doreen, I am so glad that I have inspired you! Yes, writing and painting can capture me and I am lost for days. I will be curious to see how you feel about painting again. How long has it been since you painted? Good luck, and please share and keep in touch. Love, Peta

  1. Congratulations, Peta! It sounds like, by talking about the abuse, it has helped you get rid of all the blocks, that were keeping you from being creative. I learned how to work through a difficult childhood, through a book called The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Christina, you are the second person that has mentioned the Artist’s Way , I read that a long time ago and obviously I am being called to revisit it. : ) I still do have some difficulties working through blocks especially when new challenges arise. If I don’t run away, I consider that a win. I may slow way down, but as long as I keep on track, I have learned that works. It is the best I can do for now. Thank you for your input! Love, Peta

  2. Oh my stars! Peta, you are an incredible artist with your words! My heart breaks for the sadness and is mesmerized by the calling you have to paint! I am literally gripped by your words, and I only hope and pray that as you move forward, your love of painting brings light and love to your heart, flooding every place that once had shadows with a warm bright light. You are so gifted. Thank you for sharing in such a very real and forthright way.

    1. Thank you so much Amy!! Your words are so encouraging and make me feel so good. I will move forward! I love how you said that my art floods every place with light that once had shadows. Wow, I hope that I achieve that! Thanks again for your inspirational words. Love, Peta