Here’s a little known fact – not that it’s a secret, but it rarely comes up in conversation – I used to work for an art company back in college called MESSY HANDS. At the time it was a travelling art company where we’d do art activities with kids on a converted school bus – it was painted in every colour of the rainbow, and detailed with fun fur. There were three busses – Bunty and Bessy (the small busses that I drove), and Thomas (the big school bus that I didn’t drive because it was far too big.) It was the most fun job I had in college … and I had the best boss/dear friend who later welcomed me into her home when I needed a place to live for a while. (Side bar, the company is still around, but sadly the busses have retired – more detail here.)
I’ve always had an interest in art – I love colour and find the way different people express their creativity to be so fascinating. I’m truly blessed by the number of creative people in my life from artists to musicians to dancers, etc. My own father designs and builds custom homes, which has always amazed me (although his style is different than mine, his designs are pretty amazing). As a child I loved to draw, and pencil crayons were my favourite thing. I loved the Laurentian brand because I always wanted to write my name in the white part – although I never did.
I’m not sure when, or how, but I stopped “arting” pretty early in my childhood. I have a vague recollection of someone commenting on my work and me taking it as though it was the worst thing ever, I was never good enough so why even bother? I never felt like my work was ever as good as the really good drawers in my class. Working for MESSY HANDS was different because we never actually drew or created a picture. We did art activities (never crafts) like creating things out of clay, plaster hand plaques, painted boxes that we’d then glue pom poms too, etc.
Recently, I’ve been wanting to get back into it. I’ve been inspired by my beloved Soul Sister who created some beautiful paintings, and I watched as a dear friend signed up for an art class created beautiful pieces. A few months ago, I reconnected with my dear friend Tiz from MESSY HANDS and we decided to do some art therapy. We began with a meditation, selected our colours, and then hit our canvas … with our eyes closed. I had some reservations, I’m not going to lie. My inner child came out and was so scared to touch the canvas. We did a few other meditations and activities in the middle of our painting to see what messages came out. It was a really neat experience. Those works are currently in progress – we’re taking some time away from that project to meditate further on the messages.
A few weeks ago, after the art session mentioned above, I connected with my dear friend Maria, or Curly Ms. A as I like to call her. She is a phenomenal artist – but don’t take my word for it, see for yourself. She invited me over to her place to paint. I went over today, thinking she and I would each have an easel and would just paint and LOL, but instead she handed me a square canvas and said “go.” I froze … my inner child had come out and screamed “no! I can’t do it … it’s gonna suck!” and I didn’t know what to do. Curly Ms. A is amazing you guys, she really is. She gave me some pointers on colour combinations, the different tools I’d be using (she works with palette knives), and then sat back as I played in the creative space.
The entire experience was pretty fascinating to me. I started off scared, and Maria knew it … she even said “don’t be scared of the canvas – trust it.” She knew everything that was going on in my head – “you’re thinking too much” she’d say “you have to trust your intuition!” It got a easier as my creativity started to drip, and Ms. A recognized it. “I love that you’re trusting yourself more. Go with your gut … see, you knew to change knives.” I had no idea what I was doing – at times it just felt like I was smearing paint on this canvas, but as I experimented with different techniques and blends of colour, something started to form.
A few things I learned during the process was, for starters, just trust the process. The first thing you put on the canvas isn’t going to be the final product. Let the colours go where they need to go and just let them flow through you. How true is that to life? At one point, I put a little too much purple and decided to cover it with some white paint – the white paint didn’t cover the purple completely. You could see the purple in the background, but it added a nice texture to the white space. The message I received was “it doesn’t matter how much light you use, you will never erase the past. Learn to embrace it, Paul, and incorporate it into your present.” So now my angels work through music and art …
It’s not my best work I love this painting. It tells a story about conflict. A big purple dolphin is struggling with a whale. The whale represents the dolphin’s past. The dolphin is fighting with the whale, but as you can see the whale has already let go … it’s the dolphin that’s still holding on to the whale. If only the dolphin would just turn around, he’d see there’s a beautiful sun he could swim towards.
The entire experience has taught me so much, and it was just the outlet I needed for the stuff I’m currently moving through. I’m inspired now to create and I feel as though the flood gate is beginning to rise. Will I ever have a showing? Probably not … but who knows, you may receive one of my pieces as a birthday gift one day!