Kind Promise: I will experience this moment.
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.
It 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