Painting Love

Art Awaiting Discovery

Just before Christmas, I went into my garage to find a box and, no matter where I looked, I uncovered art materials and art resources. And I thought about the number of fun kid’s and adult’s art activity sets I have bought over time to play with (and haven’t) .. and canvasses and paints and other art and craft materials sitting unopened on shelves and in boxes .. and wondered about my patient Spirit that just kept prompting me, for years, until I was ready to give myself permission to dive in.


2012 – The Year of Creativity?

2012 is going to be a very colourful and creative year for me, a time of letting loose and playing with all the art I have kept stuck inside me for years because I didn’t have ‘the technique’ or what I tried creating wasn’t perfect or because I needed the time to ‘do it properly’ or my space was too chaotic to be able to get paints out easily or whatever other story I used to hide the fact that I hadn’t owned my sadness about experiences in my childhood that made me put away my pencils and my paints and so I had not moved past them.


Childhood Disappointments

I used to spend most of the days of my childhood drawing. I devoured the few how-to-draw books my parents had bought me and I can still remember a day that I spent propped up against a tree trying to draw its seeds and leaves with my charcoals. And I remember my parents submitting my artwork in an application to join a prestigious national art school in South Africa and being told that I had been accepted. And later being told that my parents couldn’t afford it and I couldn’t go.

And I don’t remember creating any art after that.

The Door Opened Briefly

In the five years before we had children, my ex-husband really encouraged me to let my creativity loose .. he was constantly painting or whittling or creating something.  I went to college and made hand-built ceramics and threw pots on the wheel, taught myself woodcarving and even started painting a bit, though I never completed a painting. I seemed too stuck in trying to ‘do it right’, struggling with technique and feeling I could only do it if I knew how the painting would look completed but not knowing how to get it there. When I became a mother to high-need babies with severe reflux, sleeping little and needing to carry them upright for my waking hours for the first nine months or so, it not only strained my marriage, but drowned out my creativity for a long time.


That time is over now.


Creativity Rebirthed!

A few months ago, I completed my first painting! I had a few hours when my children were with their dad and I was filled with an incredible feeling of joy that I really wanted to capture. I wasted most of my available time distracting myself until I only had a couple of hours left and I knew I had to do it right away or lose the moment altogether.


I grabbed my paints and a pad of acrylic sheets, quickly sketched out an idea that came to me to match the emotions I was feeling and just began painting. It was fast and ecstatic and fun!


The next day, I added a few finishing touches while my children played around me .. taking less than an hour and I was done .. my first completed painting!


And Another To Join It

And this week, I painted an angel with this lovely batik-style, inspired by Goddess Leonie Dawson.

I loved the process and can see where I can improve it, but I loved making this.



And today, inspired by my affection for a friend whose birthday it is, I began AND finished painting AND framed it .. BEFORE breakfast!


OK, so it was a late breakfast (and my children slept in very, very late) .. I had the idea for it the night before and woke on his birthday thinking about him and the painting I was about to create. I enjoyed lighting the candle to use for the batik-style outline thinking about his light and his love of the Divine. And I held those ideas as I painted. I had a moment of regret as some of the colours ran where I hadn’t expected them to, but it felt somehow perfect .. a Divine ‘mistake’ that brought its own touch of beauty and reminder of the beautiful imperfections all around us and I felt at peace with it.


I hung it on my wall for a while to see how I felt about it and even though my eye could pick up a few things here and there, the feeling in my heart every time I looked at it was incredible .. light and joyous and warm and I can sense my friend’s essence when I look at it, which is the best I could possibly have hoped for.


Have I Unschooled My Art?

And even more, I am delighted that my painting mojo is running free and wild through my life now. I am thrilled that I don’t feel constrained by not being as good as ‘experts’, or by having to be something I am not. That I am painting because it makes me feel incredible to do it. That I paint from my heart and play and try things out.


Oh my god .. I may have finally deschooled my creativity!


Oh yes! 2012 is going to be SPECTACULAR!!!




photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML



  1. Fun, don’t stop, Just keep creating whatever comes to you. I started working with wax and creating batiks in high school, over 20 years ago. Unfortunately I stopped and didn’t start again until recently. Looking back, I wish that I had continued, think of how many pieces of art I could be enjoying right now. Luckily it is never too late to start again and I am having a blast with them now. So, long story short, keep painting. 🙂

    • The Whole Mama says:

      Gene .. thank you for the encouragement! It couldn’t have come at a better time 🙂 My art making has been the first thing to fall off of a busy schedule and I am feeling the hole it should be filling up. From this week, I am consciously making the space again to express the colour and feelings inside of me through mixed media! I am very excited by it.

  2. It’s so amazing when we finally just let go and create stuff!

    On Christmas Eve day while my kids were out w/ others I again thought “I wish I knew how to make my own purses”… and then the most beautiful thing happened….

    I made one – I just went for it and not only that I used my favorite fabric I’ve been saving for over a year and, while it’s not quite what I wanted, it works and I made it and I’m so grateful.

    I had an art teacher a couple of years ago tell us that inside every artist are 10,000 bad paintings – what she meant was that we have to be willing to be less than perfect and to make those *awful creations in order to get to brilliantly wonderful stuff – I think 2012 will be a beautiful year for this for a lot of us.


    • The Whole Mama says:

      Yes! I saw a wonderful video by Ira Glass recently and also something on zenhabits talking about the amount of time it takes to master something and how we need to just keep creating until we get better at it. For the first time ever though, I feel great about what ever I am making, knowing that it will still get better.

      I love that you used your favourite fabric! I’ve been using all my “best stuff” in other contexts too and realize how wonderful it is 🙂 Let me know if you post photos of it anywhere.

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