Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Limitless... The story behind the Painting

This post is very different from my normal style...It had to be. 
It is about a very different painting. 
I am almost always surprised when I work on a painting. It never takes a straight path from beginning to finished product and, most of the twists and turns are unexpected. I frequently find the mood I am expressing at the end is not at all where I thought the piece was going and, usually, I am pleased. Every painting is an emotional journey for me and every time I sign my name in the lower right corner, I realize I have learned more about myself.
This piece, Limitless, actually did not follow this pattern. I created it as a thank you gift for someone who was in my life only a few short weeks. This person was the compassionate catalyst for a tremendous amount of emotional discovery and personal growth for me.
I met her when I began a training course for something I wanted to do very much. It was something I thought I was already good at and, in the beginning, it seemed I was. I found out however, the very opposite was true. I was stunned but not upset. I just worked harder. I had never failed at anything in my life and it never occurred to me this would be the first time.
I used my usual tactics. I berated myself for not being smart enough to catch on quickly, for not even realizing I was having difficulty. I called myself stupid and ridiculous for believing I was talented when, actually, I was unspeakably bad. And I continued. I believed, I knew, I would “get it”, finally, and I never thought to wonder if the end was worth all the effort it would require. I certainly never thought to ask why it was so important to me in the first place.
Ali asked these questions, and more. Why was I being so hard on myself and demanding something of myself that wasn’t necessary? She worked hard to help me understand this was not a personal failure but simply not a good fit for me. It was not an area of strength. Why not put my time and effort into something I was well-suited for and actually enjoyed doing? She used the term square peg in a round hole.
I was enraged. Who did she think she was? She obviously did not know me. I would show her how wrong she was. But then it hit me; she was kindly telling me not to come back. I was shocked. I was nauseated and light-headed. I had been judged inadequate, simply not good enough to even warrant extra help to see if I could improve. I was in such a mess I wasn’t sure how I was going to make the drive home. 
I made it home just fine, but I spent the rest of the night fuming. The next morning, I felt bruised and battered, but not quite so raw. I made myself think about everything she had said. Honestly, I had suspected everything she mentioned. The shock had come when I realized I would not be given time to improve. 
I began working on a painting while I was sorting through all of this. The piece felt angry and defensive…self-protective (Screaming Crow). As I painted, I considered two very important pieces of information from our conversation. First, she was right. About all of it. Second, I did not have to do this; I could choose to spend my time doing something I loved. I could just choose. All of the pressure I felt was based on self-inflicted “shoulds” and, frankly, made no sense at all. What if I gave myself permission to simply make another choice? As I considered this, peace coursed through me.
Within this new-found calm, I stopped working on the crow, and began asking myself a lot of questions. I had a husband and two small children who came first, always. I would have it no other way. So, in the precious time I did have to myself, what did I want to be doing? When things were flowing for me…how was I spending my time? The answer was easy.  Art. When I was painting, my life just worked better. Perhaps this was obvious but, once I faced it consciously, I relaxed a bit more. 
I asked other questions, hard questions about my strengths and my basic beliefs about myself. The discoveries I made were, quite literally, life-changing. That post will show up as soon as the Screaming Crow has said all he needs to.
For now, I am thankful; Eternally, immensely, thankful. This gratitude and new-found self-awareness is what moved me to start this new painting. From our brief acquaintance, I came away a different person. Limitless, reflects the freedom and the joy I felt when I gave myself permission to simply be who I was truly intended to be.
When we are capable of giving ourselves this gift, the potential is absolutely Limitless.  

Limitless  8x8 Cradled Birch Panel

 Thank you for listening. 


  1. This painting makes me want to feel the wind in my hair, breathe deep and laugh long. Thank you for posting pics.

  2. Love the story behind this painting. Can't wait to read about Screaming Crow.

  3. What a joyous post and gorgeous painting Jess! I loved hearing about your connecting to your inner self. I feel such joy and, well, FREEDOM and wild abandon in your new painting as your spirit and awakening shines right through it! This painting is a perfect reflection of your inner journey! Thanks for sharing yourself and your art Jess. You are both so beautiful and I adore the new piece! xo <3 xo

  4. Thanks Mom! I Love you. Thank you for being such a fantastic cheerleader... and babysitter :-D

  5. Christine, Thank you!! The support and beautiful comments you leave nurtures and inspires me. Much love <3

  6. love seeing your painting...i adore horses! it's so inspiring to hear your story too! thanks for stopping by my blog! best wishes!


  7. Hi Jess, I haven't been to your blog for a while and I really enjoyed just scrolling down and catching up with all you've been up to. Very uplifting, thanks :)