My word for 2016 is viriditas, but my theme seems to be contemplation.
This was the focus of the encaustic workshop, Creative Attunement, I taught in April. I had one student ask if people usually cry during my workshops (not in a bad way, but in a it-just-touched-a-deep-place kind of way). I answered that I often cry when I paint, tapping into that place in my subconscious that feels all the feels that I cannot even articulate or identify.
(Just a few images from the contemplative approach to encaustic workshop)
Excerpt from a recent Richard Rohr Meditation daily email:
“Thomas Keating teaches a beautifully simple exercise to use in contemplation. Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling; acknowledge that you’re having the thought. Don’t hate it, don’t judge it, don’t critique it, don’t, in any way, move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Admit that you’re having it, then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. The river is your stream of consciousness.”
I used to attach to all those thinks and feels. Now they flow out in my paintings without my attachment, often without my full understanding. I find that I prefer it that way. I still ride the highs and lows like ocean waves, but they no longer steer the boat. My coracle is divinely guided. I get the opportunity to experience this life without having to grasp or cling to this life, rather letting that coracle ride the waves as I feel the fresh ocean air on my face and in my lungs.
Riding the coracle continues to land me in surprising places, not always places I’d necessarily like to land. One landing place that came up recently and did not let me go was at the shore of rape culture in the United States. I don’t think that the culture has really changed much over the past decades, yet now dialogue is happening. Women are speaking out, sharing their stories. No longer is societal shame allowing rapists to get away with their crimes. There is still much progress to be made in the treatment of these crimes in court.
With a contemplative approach to rape culture, I am able to paint about some pretty powerful emotions and then move on without a sense of clinging to the message. I can acknowledge and grieve for the dreams lost, the shame, the brokenness, that would come with the experience of rape without having to remain in this place. I was asked if I am going to continue exploring this issue in my studio. I can only respond with, “Only if my coracle bumps back to this shoreline.”