Creativity brings states. States of mind; states of emotion, spirit and energy. There are quite a few more states, but you get the idea.
A certain state that I particularly love encompasses all of them. This is when I’m in full fly, right in the middle of a creative flurry. This can last for hours.
At this time, the implements I use take on the form of an extension to my arm, hand and fingers.
That’s a painting knife. A story about that some other time. This quick story is about a brush.
Any brush — it doesn’t matter which type or size of brush, because this state embraces all of them. In any case, the brush that is chosen, the implement, always fits in concert with the state and is perfect for that time. If it isn’t, you make it perfect.
Everything is ‘feel’ when you choose and work with an implement, in this creative state. On this occasion I was flying with a seascape. Really into it; a burst to capture the torment of that section of sea. I was fast. Onto the palette, swoop onto the canvas, swish through the palette. A wonderful weird dance with canvas, implement, squeezed paint, arm and mind and spirit working together.
In times like this only a quick glance at the palette tells you all you need to know, for the next stroke. (And for the entire remainder of the painting session, actually.) When the palette doesn’t look right at a glance, you stop and get it right.
So here I am, in flying dance, swooping up from the palette with a loaded brush — and my arm was suddenly shot through with pain.
Pain came from the brush: I could feel it in a direct line up from the brush through my fingers and hand, up through my arm, nearly to my shoulder. It hurt.
And it caused me to stop. In the next few seconds I would learn a lesson to last until today, for I was young in my career at this time.
Pain? Like that? Why?
I looked at my brush — and sure enough, there was the reason. The bristles had a smear of red paint on it.
I was working with subtle blues. What had happened is that in my urgent flying flurry I had accidentally swiped through the blue paint to catch the blob of red also on the palette.
Had I carried through with the stroke, I would have ruined the painting. It would have been impossible to remove, and I would not have been able to recapture the spirit and physicality of what I had achieved if I could remove it.
At one with the paint and brush, the red imposter – that I didn’t know was on the brush because I wasn’t looking at it, I was looking to the painting at where the stroke would go – actually caused physical pain.
I loved it.