It is late in the evening and I am exhausted from work. I exchange my teacher’s skirt for grey yoga pants. My art space faces a divider in our bedroom, along the expanse positive affirmations and pictures of my youngest daughter shine as though to greet me. Metallic ink sprays and heavy gel medium lie next to a replica of a skull won at an auction.
Within an empty cat treat container, thirty or more index cards are housed. A few move like a river pulsing with phalo blue, cardinal red, and lafayette green. Others breathe fire and show only shadows or eyes. All feature scraps of past attempts, pain, and joy thrown onto white pages still vibrating from my energy. Fingerprints etched into the final product.
Sometimes my process is like a beautiful thunderstorm, images flash before me, and all I need to do is copy them onto the notecard. Time thins and then disappears. Magic is only broken when there is nothing else to release.
Other days, Resistance wins. Meaning has packed its bags with no returning address. My Why has deserted me. “It’s dumb and ugly,” my mind whispers, “You are nothing but a fraud. How many followers do you have? No one is going to see it. Give up. What is there to lose?”
It is by participating in challenges that I can keep Resistance in its cage. When my hands are covered in paint, I can feel the steady beat of my heart. My lungs can inhale and exhale. Emotions pass by like bad gas, often striking my creation and leaving its scar. Still, I show up. I want to be a pro. It is not the product that defines me. It is my commitment to what nourishes and fortifies.
It is what infuses me with joy, spreads across my chest, and beats along with my heart. I need to make meaning out of life—out of gel medium, paint, paper, old book pages, even plastic pink flamingos. Every minute, hour, and day I assign meaning to life.
As a writer, I had no idea that vibrant color was part of who I am. Challenges give me the courage to put on my teacher hat every morning, and return to art after the final bell. My joy is radiated through blue ink stained hands and vermillion paint spots.
Rose Ketring, a Seeker of Wisdom in Maryland, provides shelter to words and images that come bruised, ostracized and unfairly judged. Friend to ancient paper, ink, and blue acrylic paint. You can visit her creations on Instagram.