Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is my mood reflected in my painting?

In my previous post, I said that I think of someone in my life when I am painting.  I countered that by wondering if I thought of someone who really was a problem in my life or who was not a positive person, if this could affect the outcome of a painting.  So, in all fairness I had to give this idea a run through to see what the end results would be.  Surprisingly, I found this difficult to put to the test!

Every time I pull out my paint supplies, I find that my mood improves.  If I have been feeling down, painting seems to give me a better focus on what has been bothering me and leads me to a way of resolving the issue at hand.  This leads me to thinking about other people in my life, the ones who are positive influences and right away I see and feel the difference this makes in my day.  In fact, regardless of what activity I am involved in, whether I am actually painting or washing up the dishes, as long as I am thinking about painting, I find myself to be positive.  This revelation was surprising.  I now know of a way to pull myself out of a dark mood regardless of where I happen to be or what I am involved with.

When I thought further about this, I realized that I have been using this tactic for quite some time.  I often find  myself sitting in the doctor's reception room waiting for my appointment which frequently means that I am waiting for a lengthy period of time.  To be fair, it is not always due to the doctor being tardy, but rather that my means of transport meant that I would arrive a fair period of time prior to the actual time of my appointment.  I prepare for this by bringing along a magazine or two, the book I am currently reading along with a notebook to make notes in about the subject matter of my reading materials.  The magazines and books that I read for the most part pertain to art in some way.  No matter how long I have to wait, as long as I have this reading material, I am quite content to sit, tucked away in a quiet corner, happily reading about artistic pursuits and making notes of ideas that come to me about techniques to try, colour combinations to use, etc.  So, even though I am having to wait, an activity that tends to make most of the others in the reception room restless, I am quite calm.

Now, I did try this week to think about problem people whilst I was actually involved in working on different canvases.  Amazingly, I could not focus on them.  As soon as I picked up my brush, I was not able to think of anyone or anything negative.  My focus was always on the happier aspects of life, people I enjoy being with, books that I want to read, plans for future paintings and so on.  I just was not able to be negative.  Even if I was having a problem working on a particular section of the canvas, I was not feeling pressured, but rather it was as if I were working on a puzzle that needed to be solved.  I was so involved in working on the canvas that I often lost track of time.  The only thing that could distract me was a certain feline trying to sit up on the table to help me with my painting.  Molly Cat can be pretty persuasive when it comes to demanding attention and truthfully, I cannot say that I was terribly upset at the thought of rubbing her furry little tummy or snuggling her in my arms and sitting down to chatter at her or put a few little treats in her dish.  Such diversions are normal and to be predicted.  Cats, just like children, want a little more attention just when you want to work on a particular task.  How you handle the diversion determines your mood.  Since I enjoy Molly's antics and encourage them, I cannot be terribly distraught over her demanding a little extra attention.

I was determined that I had to see how mood and the resulting paintings would relate.  I set up my paint supplies and purposely selected darker, more somber colours to use on two canvases.  I thought that this would help set the tone for some more intense results, ones that would surely denote a certain sadness or lack of enthusiasm for what I was doing.  I am putting the results up for you to see.  I painted two abstracts, rather like slashes of colour across the two canvases.  While I tried to think of negative people, my thoughts always turned to inquisitiveness regarding what colour to use in a particular spot on the canvas, what colour should be next to the other and so on.  My mood was definitely not "down."  I tried to think about a certain few people whom I consider to be negative and with whom I do not have a good relationship.  I just could not focus on them.  Every time I tried this, my thoughts reverted to being positive.  I am not disappointed with the resulting paintings.  While they are not the type that I normally paint, nor do they use a palette of colours that one would associate with me, the paintings themselves are interesting in their own way.  I rather like the combination of colours and truthfully, I have a feeling that I might take a walk down the dark side of the palette again.  Darkness, it seems, rather appeals to me.  I gave this further thought.

I often read before I go to bed at night.  My nightly reading differs greatly from my reading during the day while waiting for an appointment or just to while away some time enjoying a coffee when I am out shopping.  During the day, my reading is more likely to be pertaining to art, whereas at night, I like to read for pleasure, not necessarily to learn something or to collect information.  I do like fiction, it takes me away on a mental journey.  It is almost as if I am watching a movie rather than reading a book.  The fiction that I have been reading over the past year or two seems to be of a darker tone than what I had read previously.  I rather enjoy a lengthy chapter or two of vampires or other such creatures prior to settling down for the night.  This seems amusing to me as I would have thought that such subject matter would lead to sleepless nights or at the very least nightmares about fierce creatures roaming the world.  This was not so.  When I had nightmares, they were generally about situations in my life where I felt out of control of my emotions or actions.  I would wake up terrified and not be terribly keen about returning to sleep.  My way of resolving this was to make a cup of tea, pick up my vampire or other such book and continue to read for another hour or two.  It seems that real life is scarier than fiction and I suppose that is as it should be.  Real life is scary at times, but as long as my paints and canvas are nearby, I can handle whatever is tossed my way.

I suppose that I can say safely that for myself, my mood is reflected in my paintings.  But, my mood is always positive or becomes more positive as my painting progresses.  I like that thought, it makes me feel that I have a certain amount of control of my life and how it plays out.  If I can change my mood just by pulling out the paints or by doing something artistic, then I am in control of my destiny for the most part.  There are always going to be times when life's little journeys are neither pleasant nor fun, but as long as I know that I can counter these occurrences with a little or a lot of art therapy, then I feel that there has been a fair trade off.

While my experiment has given me this set of results, other artists will likely find that their results differ.  We all have seen artwork done during an artist's "blue period" and it does reflect a certain tone of sadness.  It all is dependant on the artist and how they relate what is happening in their life to what appears on the canvas whether in subject matter or use of colour.  For me, since painting is what gives purpose to my life, my resulting paintings are going to reflect positivity, a zest for learning and simply a joy in painting.  I can live with those results.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

P.S.  I have also put up a landscape that I did during the same day that I painted the two abstracts.  In fact, I painted one canvas right after the other.  The landscape reverted to my use of brighter colours and love of trees.  This has to be symbolic of something and I will have to give it some further thought.  Maybe I have an affinity for nature that subconsciously I feel compelled to paint.  If anyone has any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them!


Anonymous said...

Hi Ruthee! :)I always feel that outside influences greatly affect how/what/I create (writing, sewing, COLORING with my daughter!).
I believe that our experiences shape who we are and what we make--of life, art, existence.
I love the journey! ;)
Can't wait to see what you come up with next :)

Ruthee said...

I do believe that way too, but for some reason, when it comes to art, I can leave my problems to the side and paint with enthusiasm. Experiences do shape who we are, that is why I turned to art. Life was a major problem and by painting, I could deal with the problems at hand. Really happy you are following my journey. I can't wait to see what I come up with next too. :)