Friday, February 7, 2014

Painting the Feminine - Destruction and Rebirth

The journey we took together through Painting the Feminine, led by the huge hearted, vibrant and honest Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio officially ended this past Monday, February 2. But truly, when she offers it again, I highly recommend you take it, even if you don't think you can draw because art skills and techniques DO NOT matter. They really, truly don't. I have thoughts and feelings on what this whole journey meant to me and look forward to continuing the exploration on my own (with the safe space to continue to share my work and discoveries here on the blog and with my sisters in paint on our community page) but I will share those once I've finished sharing my art journal pages. Which will hopefully resume next week. My scanner has been giving me some trouble and photos of the journal just don't capture the essence of each image as well as I'd like. But I think I've finally gotten it sorted out, so I'll be on a scanning marathon this weekend!

In the meantime, one of the prompts that I haven't shared yet touched me so deeply and so heavily that I worked with it not only in my journal, but on to the canvas.

The prompt was The Fierce Feminine... in particular, the power of Destruction. Harnessing our Kali and Destroyer energies in such a way so they don't burn us out, but are beneficial rather than simply destructive for destruction's sake.

You all may remember this painting I shared a while back:

Some of you will be horrified to know that I mindfully and intentionally destroyed this piece, smothering her with gesso and modeling paste until the canvas was blank and textured; new and reborn. All 80+ hours of work and hands down my masterpiece painting, gone in a few hours time. Let me share why I did so, as recorded in the writing journal that's accompanied this journey through the feminine:

Destruction and closure came to me in a very different way than just in the art journal this week. It came in the form of a bottle of Gesso and the edge of one of those faux credit cards you get in the junk mail (who needs a palette knife?).

The painting is one that took me almost 100 hours to complete. It is filled with sweat, tears and so much raw anger, hurt and frustration. She tore from my gut and my heart like an avenging angel, filled with fire and poison, ready to smite and to kill after one of the most emotionally draining and painful periods this soul has encountered in its 30 years on this Earth; my longest and most difficult battle with depression, lasting over 6 months and nearly costing me every single loved one in my life. She sucked the last vestiges of the lingering feelings from that time out of me, like a great vacuum and left me feeling cleansed, renewed and refreshed when I had finished.

It was a year ago this weekend that she was created and it was this weekend that she has been cleansed, wiped clean. I was so proud of her when I finished her; she was both a technical and emotional masterpiece for me... the single greatest work I've ever achieved. But we both knew that I couldn't fully heal with the energy leaking from her and from me; that the old wounds were merely scabbed over and not yet scars. Looking at her was a painful reminder of that terrible time, not one that uplifted me and said "I made it!" but one that reminded me of all that I had felt. So I sealed that time and those feelings behind layers and layers of Gesso; I sent her off with ritual - with incense and with more tears, this time of the cleansing variety. The surface of the canvas has been cleansed and reborn and is now waiting to reveal something new to me when the time is right.

This was one of the most difficult things I've ever done; to in essence destroy something in to which I'd breathed life. But from destruction, so often comes birth and I know that something beautiful will emerge from her proverbial ashes.


And something already has. I've been working on a new painting on this canvas since our circle closed, keeping my painting practice alive in a different form... taking the time and space each day to connect with the Feminine and paint. I've been enjoying this new painting, singing and dancing while I break in new paintbrushes from the husband on it. This is the polar opposite of my time painting The Lady, where most days I dragged myself unwillingly to the canvas almost as an act of penance... painting this new one has been an act of pure joy and light heartedness. Going to the canvas isn't a chore, but rather something to look forward to each day.

Taking that brave step, harnessing the strength of the fierce Feminine to destroy something that I had created (which I have never, ever, ever done before) was an amazingly freeing and healing experience. Without that happening, I may never have fully gotten over that time or the fear of relapse. Now, without her constant gaze reminding me of it from the studio floor (I never hung her up but rather left her in the corner) I feel no fear or shame.

Here's a sneak peek at the rebirth, the Phoenix rising from the destruction:


  1. Wow...just wow! Such strength!!!

  2. I think it takes a great deal of bravery and strength to not only pour so much energy into healing yourself once, but to then finish the process and to let go and move on by transforming something still painful into something joyous. You are an amazing woman, and watching your journey via your art is humbling and inspiring. Your ability to lay raw and bare the dark (and light) corners of yourself is an ability I too want to have, something I'm working on. So thank you for the inspiration, and as always, I'm looking forward to seeing the metamorphosis this piece in particular is undergoing. Love & hugs! ^__^


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