Saturday, December 17, 2011


      *  Seasons, years, washed away by rain, fade like watercolor impressions. 

An opportunity arose to paint a series of pictures while talking to a local church group some years ago.  To rehearse, I'd do a talk at home by myself along with practicing the companion chalk or ink painting.  I chose "simple and swift" to create and hold interest.

Fifty people gathered.  I felt confident as I heard them babble.  Hearing my introduction, I walked to the easel, picked up the soft white pastel chalk, smiled and began to speak:  "Advent, a time of waiting...."  The theme was patience, acceptance, and exploring life's directions.  I thought about many paths I walk.  How impatient am I?  Plenty!

Pencil touched illustration board.  I sketched the side of Mary's face with soft, sure strokes.  I shaded the chin and blended it lightly with my hands like sculpting with pencil and chalk instead of honing marble.  Mary's face rose up three dimensionally.  The veil flowed from the pencil.  Then I misted it with white pastel.  While speaking, I stood to the side of the easel and drew across the painting.  Looking out at my audience as I worked, everyone could see the painted action spring to life. 

I chalked in the angel of light, ghostlike with diaphanous silver white beams streaked then blended with my fingers.  I put the finishing touches on Mary's eyes, the shadow of the eyelid over the eyes, the pinpoint of highlight in the pupil.  The eyes sparkled, receiving life, my favorite part of painting faces. 

Talk over, painting finished, I stood aside.  Applause washed over me.  My heart smiled.  The group started to file out for coffee.  I glowed from praise and adrenaline rush and tried to project humility.  Three people stopped by to talk.  One had a photo in her wallet, a drawing done by an Italian mystic who claimed his hand was guided by God.  His drawing of Mary was haunting.  The expressive upward looking eyes were remarkably similar to my painting.  In my practice drawing at home, Mary's eyes looked straight forward and seemed forlorn.

A man claimed I had already drawn in the eyes before class because he saw them right away.  He said that in some moment of the talk, I worked over the eyes again.  Answering, I pointed out the tiny pencil dots in the corners of the eyes and the bottom of the nose were the only advance guidelines.  Drawing from the side, and at a slant, I didn't want any mistakes in perception with alignment of eyes and nose.  "Oh, no, you already had the eyes drawn in," the man insisted.  "I saw them when I came into the room!"

The third viewer told me she saw the entire pencil outline of the finished picture.  "And you just traced over the lines that were already there!"  I pointed out the tiny pencil dots again, but she stated that all the pencil lines were clearly visible, dark enough for her to see from her seat near the back. 

I was startled.  What was happening?  I felt like a Zen artist, painting what was already painted....

All my life I have thought about painting and creative inspiration:  how and why it happens, or doesn't happen....Gradually I am learning to brush clouds of control and ego aside, surrendering to love's light and feeling free to create paintings, words, and better relationships with people for a more balanced life.

Restless dreams had slowly prepared me for the next steps up the mountain at sunrise.  Often I climbed on against my will.  At times, inspiration slept, buried under winter snow....then new fresh green stalks sprouted, combining both Earth's nourishment (Yin) and fire of Heaven (Yang) to reach fullest bloom. 

The rosebud of the soul opens slowly, petal by petal, to become the highest potential of the spirit.  Can I be patient enough?  Reprinted from Silver Butterfly, Create A Vision, Awaken Your Creative Spirit.  Request this free PDF E-book sent via E-mail.
Silver Butterfly is the lead-in for Out of the Blue.  Purchase original paintings and custom prints. 

Mary and the Angel, pencil and pastel painting by Dahlis Roy