Structure is a hot topic. I had lunch with two friends this week and osteoporosis was a topic of discussion in both conversations. One a writer, the other an artist, we chatted about creating both art and bones.
The Connection Between Art & Healing ~ Osteoporosis
I have been doing a lot of architectural paintings recently. Since my diagnosis of osteopenia in January, I now see the correlation to my attraction to painting buildings. This insight is helping me create a new daily structure of yoga, painting, eating well and enjoying friends. This is a healthier lifestyle than the workaholic one I was living without the support of exercise, friendships and regular meals.
Even my garden paintings are being impacted by this renewed awareness of structure. In the initial block-in, it’s easy to see the bones of this painting. Remember my post about the botanic garden last week? That’s where I first saw these tulips! To draw the tulip garden, I started with a gold ochre pastel on a 24 x 30 Ampersand sanded board.
Since artists are thought to be unstructured, these marks may appear random at first. So I will show you the structure I am using in this sequence, and how it is related to my osteopenia.
Pastel Painting Lesson
How Painting is Helping Rebuild my Skeleton
Drawing is an extension of one’s signature. Everyone writes or signs their own name without thinking, a calligraphic expression of one’s heart. Like my signature, the scribbling calligraphy of my lines creates the specific foundation suitable for my painting.
Think of my canvas as a mirror. As I adjust each color, shape, and intensity, smoothing out or ruffling up ~ the same is happening in my aura reflected in the mirror. Like DNA, the wavelengths of my colors and shapes correspond to my own. I don’t need to see or want to know all the details. See that the colors work together, smooth out the hair, check for something out of whack, a little lip stick and off we go.
Like a prayer, my painting is simply a request for help and guidance. For a split second I let go of my fears and concerns about it turning out well. Yes, I still have them ~ without them I wouldn’t be able to paint!
Drawing is like holding a live wire. I hope you can see and feel the charge of glowing embers in these simple, rudimentary drawings.
Once I have drawn the image I use broad cool shapes to connect the shadows. The side of the pastel is perfect as a wide brush. You can see the wide triangle of cool shapes anchored along the bottom of the painting, coming up the sides, then slanting toward the center.
The tip of the cool triangle is missing. Instead it forms a V-shape in the center. This shape is open for receiving light from above.
In the second photo, I have added lavender pink to the cool shadow triangle. These pinks are part of the same anchor triangle. The cool neutral greens and cool pinks are complimentary colors, opposites on the color wheel. Yet together they read as one dynamic cool shadow.
Again the V-shape is still open.
Shoring up the structure, I add a few more bones for the tulips and hyacinths with deep gold ochre calligraphy. At this stage, I am not thinking about all this structure as I am painting. That would be like focusing on how to create bones when I do my yoga! As I move from one yoga pose to the next, cells in my body are called upon to build strength and bone mass. Painting the shadow structure of the flowers does the same in my painting ~ establishing an hospitable plot for my healing garden.
An Important Note About the Shadow Side
Without the shadow side, the flowers would blow away. Without the dark side of this story (my osteopenia), there would be no story, no painting, no friends to share it with. I shudder to think what would become of me if my bones dissolve!
Integration of Light with Shadow
This third photo shows the highlights. Using a cool Nickel Yellow, I broadly stroke light shapes around the top of the triangle. You can see I have filled out the shadow with a few more cooler greens near the top of the triangle.
Notice how the light shapes begin to go in between some of the shadow shapes. And some of the shadow shapes reach up a bit to help define light areas. Without light, there is no color. It’s all shades of gray or pure intense pigment. I do not use black paint. White paint is only used when tinted with color. And with pastel, most of the color mixing is done on the painting itself.
Heart is the Healer
Now take a look at the placement of the three hot pink shapes ~ heart centers. These accent the shape of the triangle, tilting it back and open to the light. Seeing them now I realize they are my soul sisters. And the Deep Cadmium Yellow and Dark Gold Ochre calligraphy of the hyacinths brings the eye back down to ground in the lower right corner.
A bridge between earth and heaven, our heart connects us. A human being connects heart and mind day by day, moment by moment. No one stays connected all the time. The heart/mind/body/spirit connection is a pulse. Connect/Release, Connect/Release.
It only takes a split second to let this connection happen. Trying to stop it feels like holding the weight of the world on our shoulders.
What a gift to have this life on earth!