Obsession with beauty: My experience of painting
“I often fixate on an image for a long time before sitting down to paint it. I take photos non-stop and spend evenings mulling them over. I keep a folder of my favourite shots and revisit them endlessly. I can stare at one photo sometimes for an hour or more. During that time, it’s as if some kind of unspoken relationship begins. I’m observing, looking for details that I hadn’t yet noticed. I search for colours within that aren’t obvious. And then there’s something else going on. It must be in the realm of the sub-conscious. I find myself in a state of awe, I marvel at the beauty. I remember how it felt when I was there — how the air smelt, the temperature, and how the breeze felt when it hit my face. I recall the sounds I heard. At a certain point, I find myself still, quiet, and possessing what feels like an understanding. It’s not a very practical type of understanding, but rather the kind you can’t put words to. Like when you have a friend who’s very dear to you, and you haven’t seen each other in a long time. Finally you’ve reconnected, and after a little while of being together you remember what all the twitches on their face mean. And though you don’t know all the details of their life, you feel very deeply the sense of who they are, and in fact, you know so much. And what you know is something only you can know, feel, and cherish. I come to some feeling very much like this with my image. And then I begin to paint.
I don’t have a background in art. I began painting a year and half ago as an attempt to focus on something that could help me manage stress and depression. It was an idea I had one night when I didn’t know what to do with myself. In other areas, I have high levels of skill and training, but with painting I knew nothing. It seemed like a great way to free myself of my inner judgements – just to do something I know nothing about and for no particular end but enjoyment. What I discovered is something that has turned into a meditative practice. I work slowly with my pieces. Some of my work took over 6 months for me to complete. My paintings teach me what to do. It’s as if I follow them into a space where they are using me as a conductor. Hours go by, and I eventually stop when I find my shoulders hurting or my eyes blurring. As if coming out of a trance, I step back and am kind of amazed by what’s before me. The next time I sit down to it, the process starts again. I spend time staring, pondering, until my thoughts slow down or disappear.
Then I begin. “
Chaplyn is a music composer and professional singer hailing from Nelson, BC, who has toured all over the US. She has performed everywhere from Montreal subway stations to Carnegie Hall. She has appeared on Jay Leno, David Letterman, Good Morning America and many more. Proceeds from her art sales will go towards the completion of her upcoming album, which she is hoping to finish by late spring.
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