Elizabeth’s Story

This art was painted by Elizabeth, a woman in my past workshop, and it was from the first exercise where we became freed up to paint. She discovered more than expected through the process and uncovered a part of her that needed to speak. She shares her story here to help encourage others to move past their excuses and to paint for self-expression. Here is what she had to say about her experience.

How do you view your ability to paint?
I didn’t know what I was doing. While painting, I was very self-conscious because I wasn’t free yet to paint. Everything I did felt wrong. One side didn’t match the other, it wasn’t symmetrical. You said, ‘let’s keep working on the same painting.’ It was foreign to me to work on the same painting and add layers. So it was all new and it was uncomfortable; I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything other than just put color down. But then this point came out, and it was the most amazing thing because of what we had done and it really just blew my mind. The whole thing just blew my mind.

Did any colors or shapes mean anything to you? Did the actual image have meaning?
The only other thing that made sense while I was painting was the red. Red kept coming up. It was either passion or rage or blood or being broken. Then these dots made no sense; they became like still photographs of planets, planets in their particular cycle. Then the whole middle part became many things. It became the Milky Way and it became a vagina and became a super highway. Through the words I wrote the painting began to make sense. The painting made no sense before I began to write, then the painting made sense. Whatever I had done, without knowing it, was what some part of me wanted to do.

Can you talk about what you discovered about yourself while doing the painting?
This being the first painting, I wasn’t there yet. I still felt these undercurrents, these parts of me and this feeling that there was something inside. I have done a lot of work on myself. It’s not as though I’m unconsciously walking through the world and yet there’s a part of me that wants to speak. I’m in touch with a lot of different parts of me but some were just coming up that seemed unsatisfied with any other medium. Although when the point came out, the poem had so much in it to tell me. It was clear that I had tapped into something, that I had tapped into some part of me that had never had expression before. It had never had a venue, an avenue of expression. And somehow just putting the paint on the paper, not knowing what I was doing, released this part of me that had so much to say.