Friday, August 5, 2011

Standing at the Gates

I haven’t shared anything with you lately about Commonplace Birthday, my follow-up to Commonplace Mouse, so here is a peek at one of the paintings I’ve recently completed for it.

The trickiest part about painting this picture was capturing the light. I paint with minerals dissolved in water. Mud, basically. Can you imagine how to use mud to make light, which is—to put it one way—the absence of mud?

As I confronted this problem, I was reminded of a moment described to me years ago by my younger girl’s preschool teacher. The class was painting with watercolors, and as my daughter was putting the color onto the paper she sighed and announced that she felt as though she were “standing at the gates of heaven.”

The story was a beautiful one for me then as a mother, but while I was working on this picture it resurfaced in my mind as an artist. Isn’t that feeling of transcendence what we all strive for in our artistic work?

Of course, I was a ways off from that feeling as I sat, brush in hand, trying to figure out how to transform mud into light. Eventually I realized I just had to go for it. I had to make a leap of faith and trust that my ability and my materials wouldn’t fail me.

What became clear to me at that moment, though, was that the way to succeed wasn’t to try so much as it was to just “stand at the gates,” to leap and hope that the light would be there. It seems to have worked, but of course my preschooler could have told me it would.

Have you ever had a moment like this in your own art?


ullam said...

Beautiful Karima, you are the only person I know of who could truly make mud into light!

Shelley Noble said...

YES! Good for you for being brave.

I find that the knowledge of how to get what I want is in my hands rather than in my head.

I let my hands work, without my head understanding what they are doing. Works every time so far.

Profound key for me.

Colette George said...

Faithful-filled and provocative perspective. Love it! Thanks for the inspiration, truly.
Colette George

Susan Krzywicki said...

That image is a good one for everyday life, too. No matter whether you follow a traditional religion, or are an atheist or whatever, there is some sort of image of "heavenly" that one can relate to. And, doing the dishes or painting a wonderful scene, like you show, it is a great thing to envision how the task is bringing each of us and all of us closer to that place. Thank you so much for the reminder.

Kotinca said...

Your words are as beautiful as your paintings. Thank you for sharing.