Kind Promise: I will experience this moment. 

Painting 1 detail

If you have ever experienced the “eating a raisin” mindfulness exercise, you will know what I had in mind when I sat down to paint this morning.

I chose a smaller brush than I often use and tried to be conscious of each brushstroke.

One of the reasons I love painting is because it is a practice of mindfulness for me. I choose a color. I load the brush with water and then with paint. I make a motion with the brush against the paper. I watch what happens. My next move is in response to the interaction of paint and water and paper. We have a conversation – the materials and I – and the finished painting bears witness.

I thought I would paint one slow, deliberate painting but, as usual, I got carried away.

The first painting was an exploration of layering and surface, of making marks with my smaller brush. I had a feeling, when I stopped, that I had overworked the paper so I determined to scale back. For the second painting, I returned to my currently-favorite brush size and made fewer marks. For the third painting, I placed dots of color in a pool of water and left the results entirely up to the paint.

Painting two detailIt felt important to scan and zoom and notice… notice… notice. The scanning and zooming  give me a sense of separation from the painting. I could do the same thing by having a little viewfinder and looking at different parts of the painting. Once the piece is in the computer, I can appreciate it differently. Before the scan, I look at the painting through the eyes of memory. My attention is captured by the moments the paint surprised me or my hands didn’t quite do what I ask of them. After the scan, I notice the statements and pauses in the conversation.

A detail from painting one is at the upper right. At left is a piece of painting two.  (Clicking on the images will show the paintings in entirety.) Painting three is here.


What I’ve learned today about mindful experience:

  • slow down
  • get lost in the process
  • get some distance
  • get really close
  • notice – notice – notice