For some time now, years actually, I have failed to recover my pleasure in drawing and painting. I have all the gear, but I am not using any of it. My spare room houses brushes for oil painting, watercolour, and acrylics. It has blank canvases of various sizes, sketch pads, watercolour paper blocks, and palette knives just in case I ever need them.
Once upon a time I had some skills and even went to art college for a couple of years, but life took over and the opportunities to practice gradually disappeared. I sometimes tried to create things, but the results were never as successful as I had hoped and the reactions to them were muted at best. So, I just stopped trying.
Last month, when this topic came up in conversation with my counsellor, she asked me to do a little homework before our next meeting. I was to send her some pictures of work I had done in my youth, and also to create three images. The images were to be:
- The shield that is protecting me from whatever stops me from creating. What does it look like? Shape? Colour? What is it protecting?
- The younger, more confident me. Where am I? Appearance? Standing or sitting?
- The person behind the younger self. Who is the one that is scared of criticism?
This may have sounded like a simple task to her, and she emphasized that she was not looking for masterpieces, just expressions. Even so, I have struggled with this for an entire month. I just couldn’t come up with images that met the requirements of the assignment. As a good and diligent procrastinator, though, I finally came up with something for her on the last possible day.
In the end, I realized I could not meet her requests as they were worded, so I remade them in ways that worked for me. The shield is not a protector but a barrier. The younger me is not very confident, but more so than I am today when it comes to art work. The person behind the younger self is not a version of me and it is not singular; it is my family. They have always had my back.
My counsellor asked me to add five words to reflect each image, but the words were to be spontaneous. I was not allowed to evaluate the words themselves. She knows me too well! Here are the three images I came up with. I’ll be interested in how my conversation with her develops these thoughts.