This painting, a 16” x 20” mixed media on paper was created to explore what happens after the “mask” comes off and we examine a life situation we are experiencing. Last week’s painting; The Masquerade Ball Ended-All’s Well was about seeing what is real and true within a relationship.
With that piece, I proposed that our partners in relating are more like mirrors that we can look into and check in, to gauge if what we think we have is in fact what we are experiencing. I concluded that what we think we have is precisely what we think we have. The other also has a story about what we have together. When the stories have coherence, a relationship moves along smoothly. People create together, make joint plans, see possibilities and go on adventures. They “dance” well. They are even able to overcome obstacles and resolve difficulties. These partnerships can be romantic in nature; they can be within a family, or work related, or amongst friends. The dynamics vary ever so slightly along the gender line.
Relationships are important and pivotal. They are the only means for us to understand who we believe we are and what impact we believe we have in the world. That is why they are like mirrors. If we turn so, then the image in the mirror has a corresponding one turning fro. If this does not happen, we will most likely think that we are dreaming, or part of an alternate reality, as the children who climbed in the wardrobe to access mythical Narnia in the “Chronicles” of the same name. In any case, it is an indication that some learning is about to occur.
Indeed when things don’t hum along nicely, we begin to wonder if we were living in a different reality. With the “mask off”, we now see the missing pieces, we may notice when we fell out of step with the other, and hopefully we discover that although it does not feel good to be in relationship with this person now, we are grateful for what we learned. Once we see the mask, we are ready to complete the dance. Hence, the name of this piece, Cleaning Up After The Ball.
Sometimes, the members of the party agree that the relationship was just right within a learning cycle in each of their lives and lovingly part, or at least amicably separate. Other times the break up is marked by ego-based behavior that relies on finger-pointing, revenge and suffering that spreads well beyond the confines of the relationship. In any case, “the party is over” and cleaning up must ensue.
The cleaning can be marked by sadness, longing, pain, relief, disappointment, anger, and/or grief. In all cases, ending a relationship involves letting go. This art work explores the process of releasing it all. I used the sweeping strokes of a wide paintbrush heavy with thick red paint to denote fire; the flames that burn the old. Red is also here to imply the pain, and the anger underneath it all. The feelings fueled by our emotions are strong and indeed, it can feel bloody at times! Yet there is a need to embrace all the feelings. We know it is ego thrashing about, and allow it to undergo a controlled burn. We see torn fabric pieces flying about. The fabric has a spiral design, implying the vortex of regeneration, absorbing and transforming the past. A few gold glittery pieces crossing through the surface stand as a reminder of the good times, and of the jewels that we thought we had and now must go. The white paint applied by spatula sweeps over the red bringing in the coolness of the snow, to douse the flames and soothe the pain. Snow is also mixed in with “whipped cream”; as we recall the sweetness that we once felt. We now invite the winds of a great storm to scoop them all away and toss them into the black void-the background, cleaning, cleaning, after the party. It is over…we can abide in acceptance and be thankful for it all.
I invite you to contemplate this painting and use it to examine a break up in a significant relationship. Can you now trace how the process flowed for you? How long did it take for you to let go? Have you released this relationship? Do you still have feelings for this relationship? Do you have new insights? Did you make any new “rules” for yourself? How do you feel about your own power?
Have a great week and please let me know your thoughts.