Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Painting pain

Dear reader,

I didn't expect to fall in love. I didn't expect to be swept off my feet.

But there it was. A book full of humans in every size and shape, different genders and colors, all bodypainted head to toe.

I swooned. In one moment, my entire life changed, though I had no idea at the time.

When something sends electric shock currents through your body, when it makes your jaw drop and your heart race, you'd think it would be worth paying deeper attention.

For a few years, I just wished and dreamed. I longed for and desired. But did little to nothing.
One day, I cautiously stuck my toe in the shallow end; I purchased paint.

Just a handful of bodypaint cakes, and some play. That play led to my first bodypainting exhibition in 2009, then another, and another...all local. Eventually the tug on my heart kept pulling me along, to classes, and other bodypainters, to competitions and even assisting an artist at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria.

Those tugs on the heart are powerful things. Little, yet powerful things we can often ignore....at our own peril.

What I hadn't fully realized in the beginning;  bodypainting was healing me. With every brushstroke, and every human encountered, with every story told, and connection made, we were healing each other.

I was telling their stories, and healing my relationship with art. Falling back in love again, and again, and again.

The culmination of all these years, all this paint, and this love was brought to the forefront when my friend Sharon hired me to paint something I had never dreamed of painting. Pain. Her pain.

Her ongoing battle with chronic illness, inflammation, and bad medicine. I was to paint this experience of searing pain across her scarred body.

How does one paint pain? How could I help her express something to personal, so esoteric, and so intense? I paint beauty on people. I help them change their inner dialogue. I help them SEE differently. I don't know how to paint hurt and pain.

But she, the gracious and wise elder, gave me exactly the energy and words I needed. Once again, trusting the tugs of the heart led me directly where it needed.

I painted with my whole heart. A fierce fire-breathing dragon, shooting reds and streaks of pain, barbed wire and twisting electricity. So many things that needed to surface, that needed to be told. Pain that doctors dismissed. Pain that was now paint on skin.

I think in that one session, I finally realized how powerful this gift of bodypainting is for me. How much of a gift it can be for others in caring hands. How much the paint loves every body. How many of us need our stories on our skin.

It brought me home to my artist self. It changed the way I see human forms. It makes me fall in love again, and again, and again. I intend to serve this gift well.

Create, connect, be brilliant, beautiful readers.

Colorfully yours,

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