abstract watercolor painting of gray and black ribbons with what looks like the shape and colors of a giraffe emerging from the center


January 26, 2021

I’ve started painting in watercolor, just along with some videos, in attempt to find some distraction from the current state of affairs.  I chose watercolor because it’s easy to set up and clean up and it seems less toxic than other types of paint, though I don’t know that for sure. I also chose watercolor to inspire me to loosen up. To some degree, watercolor does what it wants, and you have to go with at least some of the flow when painting in this medium. Easier said than done for me.

At the same time, I’ve been exploring healing with the arts, since the unit I work in shifted to that focus. One question that emerged in this exploration is, What is holding you back from living in your essence? The assignment is to create a work of art depicting the answer. I chose to explore with a watercolor—my first abstract.

I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do. It was going to represent the internal obstacles holding me back and visually show what that felt like. I knew I wanted it to be mostly black, with splashes of red. At the last minute I realized it would need to have deep undertones of blue. It would represent sadness and melancholy, frustration and anger, uncertainty and confusion—but, perhaps most of all, insecurity and disconnectedness. The darkness within that keeps me hidden and quiet. The deeply rooted knowledge that even good enough will never be good enough in a world where your gifts are not wanted. This is the shape shifting shadow that follows me everywhere.

I had to mix some paints to get the colors I thought I wanted, but once my materials were set up and ready, I painted quickly and with abandon. It was my first stream of consciousness painting. I had no idea what to expect.

When I saw the water pooling, I dabbed it with a paper towel and smudged and smeared the excess around, creating a tread-like texture, as if the painting had been trampled on. I wanted even more texture so, when I’d finished applying color, I doused the entire page with a heavy sprinkling of sea salt. To my dismay, the salt absorbed much of the color I had used to mix my red, leaving behind tiny blooms of yellow and rust. I decided to let it be.

I had created the painting in landscape orientation, but when it dried, I tilted and turned it until the proper orientation presented itself. It was then that I met, to my surprise and wonder, what I could only interpret as my spirit animal.

Emerging from the ribbons of smoke and shadow appears, unmistakably to my eye, a galloping giraffe.

I must research the significance of this.