This piece of art has a story to tell.
Beneath this painting is layers of mistakes, fear, challenge and frustration but it became quite influential as it progressed. This piece holds so many layers, literally and figuratively. I wanted to create something I had never tried before; something to challenge me as I wanted to learn something new. Each time I finish a new piece of art, it reminds me how the process of creating can impact your mind, body and heart.
It was Sunday January 21st when I started this piece. Before I start something new, I feel an immense amount of pressure building inside me that prevents me from taking action. I’m not sure if it's from the many ideas in my head sorting themselves into something I can create, or the heated relationship between my excitement and my fear, that staggers my motivation. Ultimately, my curiosity in an undeveloped idea, pushes me to begin. Beginnings are exciting, like the start of a hike when your full of energy and stoked to see the view at the end of the climb (that your about to work super hard for). This painting spent a lot of time in the steep, sweaty incline stage. It was not a smooth sailing, as I definitely let fear win a few times,
before I stood to see the finished result.
To navigate colour, light and shapes with my brush, I had to imagine myself in the place I was trying to paint- underwater. From the surface, the water transforms into a body of wandering shapes, constantly dancing, with the light it receives from above and the darkness it holds from below. I thought I would have an advantage from my time I have spent underwater, but trying to paint distortion, movement, and light for the first time, was much harder than I thought. By the end of the night on January 22nd, I started to get an grasp on how I wanted to portray this abstract environment. The layers of blue followed with my brush strokes, as well as layers of mistakes and unsatisfying outcomes. When fear and frustration took over,
I left it to finish another day.
The next day, in the early hours of January 23rd, I got a nightmare of a phone call just before 3:00am. These were only words I remember from that call;
Earthquake off Alaska, tsunami evacuation, gather what you need and get to high ground. As I frantically ran around my house, all my brain allowed me to grab was my wetsuit, my dog and some water. This was the first time I had questioned my own death and how it could happen- blunt but real. Its was a strange and scary feeling to go through. Fear and adrenaline vibrated my mind and body between 2:56am to 4:20am, until we got news the wave was no longer expected. Those were moments I hope to never experience again. Everyone who lives on the west coast must have had an awakening that night (good and bad). Even though we now refer that night as a great ‘drill’, we all went through a real situation full of real emotions and questions-
and to me, a lot was learned.
The infinite amount of nature that surrounds us in this place we call home, is
powerful, humbling and impressive, and I am so grateful to be amongst it.
I realized that day, how much of my life revolves around the ocean; from my passions to my profession. I work as a marine biologist, studying marine pollution, to help protect the one thing that might just make me.....
a permanent mermaid (putting a positive spin on the obvious).
I will always love the ocean, but like most love, it is served with a side of fear.
The timing of starting an underwater painting just two days before a tsunami evacuation felt strange, but this piece held significance in a way I could not yet answer. I stared at it for days discouraged to finish, as each time I went back to paint, all the emotions I had been through the night of the evacuation, had returned.
As much as I wanted to paint over this piece in white, have a fresh start and pretend it never happened- just like those hours on January 23rd,
I had to accept the fear, and move forward.
Not only did continuing this piece mean moving past my fear of figuring out how to complete the painting, but moving past the fear that lived within it from the night of the evacuation. During the layers of transformation between the ideas in my head and what the canvas reflected, I was reminded of the best feeling that dissipates my fear;
being consumed by my creativity;
completely immersed in the painting.
Just like an underwater reflection, my life is imperfect, constantly changing and taking new shapes, and in finding my depths, I can navigate my reality. My experience through the tsunami evacuation had taught me how to push through a daily fear, how you can love something and fear something at the same time, and most importantly-
how lucky we are to be alive.
Fear will always be along for the ride, but let's not forget to breathe through it all- remind yourself how alive you are, because this thing called life,
is pretty damn awesome!!
Breathe - Acrylic 18X24
In the middle of the ocean,