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?