I really want to paint, and I really want to write about why I want to paint. Every time I think of telling someone I want to paint, I imagine myself explaining to them the rationale behind it. I typically hypothesize what I would do in any given imaginary scenario. I feel like it’s my way of making me feel safe, figuring out all the answers before they are due. It’s probably why I like to write so much; writing gives me the opportunity to fully explore my thoughts and feelings. Because I think of writing when I think of painting, I must need to write about it.
Writing and painting are the same, to me. Well, not in any way you might expect two things to be similar. You use different tools and mediums. You use different kinds of strokes. My hands stroke across a keyboard in a way that was not taught to me by formal education. I was well versed in the Kyrston style of typing before my computer classes. Too many summers cooped up in the house spending time in chat rooms, I guess.
When I write longhand, my hand is held in a certain way because I am left-handed. I have to be very careful where the other parts of my hand touch the paper when I write, because I am passing over what I have already written. Many, many days as a childhood with my hand and forearm covered in every possible writing medium – crayons, colored pencils, pencils, markers… the markers were my favorite. I have a memory of looking at my hand and arm and seeing a blend of colors smeared over one another. Yellows turned a sickly green from a blue; reds adding a deeper and more sinister hue to it, and smudges of black. My arm looked a lot different from the other kids, who may have colored fingertips or perhaps a mark on the desk from general childlike uncoordinated. I had all those things, but a permanent layering of the work I had done on my skin.
When I write longhand, it is a mixture of cursive and print that I picked up from years of documenting in patient charts. I use shorthand and write the letters in the fastest and most streamlined way possible. I try to avoid picking my pen up. I prefer pens over pencils, and I prefer a pen with a smooth feel to it as opposed to a sharp pen that, if you press too hard, tears through the paper.
When I write my thoughts and feelings down on a computer, it pours out of me with a ferocious intensity. All of the things I am writing – I feel it in the moment my fingers touch the keys. It is representative of the rawest feelings I possess. I don’t hold back – I just put it all out there. As I write, depending on the topic, I can feel anger. Sadness. Lust. Confusion. Joy. Patience. Understanding. Love.
When I write my thoughts and feelings down longhand – it is jagged with a lot of incomplete sentences. The sentences aren’t as ornate, either. The structure is basic and raw. I am more direct. I ask more questions because I am brainstorming. And it is a lot shorter.
I don’t follow any rules when I write. I have a style that I developed over time, mostly through reading a lot. I picked up stylistic cues from other authors and I began to become accustomed to different methods of creative writing. Each author has his or her own unique and distinct style. You can pick any page from any Stephen King book without looking at the author or title and know that it is him – because he is Stephen King and that is his way. The same goes for Bill Bryson, Stephanie Meyer, John Greene, J. K. Rowling, and David Sedaris. It is just the way.
I, too, have my own unique style. That is not to say that I am in the same league as these other authors – not at all. Instead, I like to think that I have found my voice in writing. I write how I want to, not how I am told. I love fragmented sentences, hyphens, run-on sentences, and grammar errors. I love words that have a very specific meaning, like abhor or effervescent. I like my writing to flow and feel smooth – the consistency of pudding in your mouth. I want it to slide down easy and for it to be pleasant the entire way.
This is how I find my creative expression. This is how I express emotion. This is how I art.
I want to apply that same thinking to painting. I don’t want to take a painting class. I don’t want a skill. I don’t want to understand spatial relationships or how to capture negative space. I don’t want any of that. I don’t even know that I want to know what kind of paint I should use with which brush, or how to mix colors.
I want to approach painting the same way I approached writing: through experimentation.
I learned how to create a writing style by borrowing some (subconsciously) from my favorite authors. I believe that I have seen enough art to know what moves me and what doesn’t. There are many things I find visually appealing and many things I do not. There are types of paint that I like and types that I don’t. I have been looking at the strokes of painters my whole life, never really seeing what it is I am actually seeing. Every stroke you see is the work of another human being’s creativity. I can tell when a painting is done in a particular way, or with a certain purpose. Landscapes and portraits are this way – some of the most famous and renowned pieces of art are pieces that I find boring and predictable. What do I find alluring? Paint spatters. Hard strokes and soft strokes and fat strokes and skinny strokes. Seemingly random and completely abstract. I want splashes of color or no color and I don’t want to know if it was deliberate.
When I imagine my painting, it is a mess of color. It is never a bowl of fruit or a forest. It is… basically a bunch of shapes and lines of different colors of paint based on how I feel.
When I come home from a long day and I am stressed, I want to grab the loudest colors I can find that strike me in that moment and just brush while I embrace the emotion. I want to close my eyes and focus on how I feel and let that feeling guide my hand. In the same way that I think a word and it flows from my brain down my arms and through my fingers onto the page – I want that with a paintbrush. I want my paintings to be a colorful and messy representation of my feelings. I want you to look at it and for you to feel what I felt in that moment. I want you to know who I am through lines and shapes and visual sensations.
I have been thinking about this for months, but I have just been too nervous to see it through. How would I explain all of this to the artists I know? I may offend them by thinking that I can create anything with no formal training or school. To these people, I explain to you –
What I do – this writing thing – I do not concern myself with whether or not it is good. I do not concern myself with whether or not it is rational or reasonable or well-organized. I don’t worry it others will read it and I don’t worry what they will think. It just so happens (by complete coincidence) that a great many people enjoy reading my writing – and I chalk it up to a fluke. I didn’t try to write this way. I am not presenting you with something that I worked on and slaved over to create this masterpiece. With my poetry – yes. I do slave over those. I slave and slave and tweak and work on it. With my creative pieces that are meant for entertainment – yes. With my research papers and essays – yes. All of these things, I use them for validation and to earn respect.
But my flow of consciousness? No. This is a purely selfish outlet for my many intense feelings and thoughts. Some people process things inside, and some people process things outside. By writing, I save a friend or lover or parent from having to sit there while I talk this all out out loud.
So, do I want you to like my paintings? I could honestly give a shit. If I were painting a woman in a silk robe reclining on a couch or painting a bowl of fruit or a sunset – then I would want to impress. I would want to know that my technique was right. But for my flow of consciousness painting exercise? That is purely for me.
I know I have imagined all of these external pressures for myself. I doubt that any artist I respect would tell me that I am being ridiculous. And they would also tell me that art is the expression of the human condition. What can be so artistic as channeling am emotion into a paintbrush and letting your soul do the talking?
Next step… supplies.