When you open your heart

Art McCracken

Leo Babauta blogged recently about how fear can keep us from doing many of the things we know we should be doing… mundane tasks like eating well all the way to life-changing acts of pursuing our dreams.  We are afraid of so much and that keeps us from necessary changes.

Mainly in response to recent violent events all over our big blue planet, I have been pondering my own fears.  In a three day period, I heard about three separate kidnappings and those put me on hyper-alert.  I’ve always been aware of my surroundings and the danger that lurks anywhere,  but I know that living in fear is not a way to go about my days.  And I know that most people are good.  But…

I have such a vivid imagination! In the last few months that I’ve been reading about peaceful parenting, raising a spiritual child, and how to incorporate value lessons in my everyday parenting, etc., I have begun appreciating my daughter so much more.  If I previously ever felt inconvenienced by parenthood, now I value it and what it has taught me so much more.  And I am loving my sweet girl.   I have the foresight to know that whatever we are struggling with right now (limits, nighttime wake-ups, and mommy’s personal space and time) will be replaced by different struggles sometime soon.  I simply love her and love being with her.

Around the time my husband and I got married 11 years ago, I remember thinking how I was placing so much of my heart into the hands of one person.  If something were to happen to him, it would happen to my heart too.  I felt vulnerable yet powerless to stop sharing more and more of myself.  It is the same feeling now with my daughter.  I don’t know why it took four years to realize it, but regardless, that same feeling of my heart living with someone else is back… and I feel it powerfully.

* * *

“When you love someone, truly love them, you lay your heart open to them. You give them a part of yourself that you give to no one else, and you let them inside a part of you that only they can hurt.” ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon

* * *

We have all been imagining what it would be like to lose a young child and we have all been hurting.   Our assignment for My Crazy Life this month was to be vulnerable, in our relationships and in our art.  So with this in mind, I tried some new things and came up with this.

final vulnerability

I have never done such a large canvas (24×24), never applied a texture underneath paint, and never tried to depict anything negative in my art.

I started by applying the textured parts.  The three diagonal lines represent ugliness (of any kind) that can streak across any pleasant life.  The modeling paste took quite a while to dry since it was so thick.

texture base

Then I painted black and red to symbolize the darkness.  This was a mistake… I should have saved this part for last because I had to go over it again after painting the background parts.

paint streaks

I covered the coarse gel with green paint via sponge.  (Also a mistake… I should have mixed it into the paint and applied it together.  It kept lifting off the canvas!)

texture green

Eager to continue, I tried speeding up the drying process with my heat gun.  I ended up working on the background and smudging colors together anyway.

heat gunI made a gray paint to fill in any white canvas peeking through and covered most of the black, so I went back and reapplied the black and the red splatter drops.  I put the red paint directly onto the sponge and dabbed or flung it on the canvas.

splattered red

I added some shimmer with liquid acrylic white pearl, black glitter, and also added yellow splotches to symbolize “anxiety.”  You can see below how I tried to blend layers together.  I wanted the calm background to be interrupted by the violence/ugliness, but I also didn’t want it to seem too stark of a contrast.  The black glitter in between was meant to soften it a bit.

shimmer closeup


The sun in the upper right corner of the canvas is a little darkened but still bright.

blackened sun

And the fallen bits at the bottom are casualties of the ugliness.  Imagine what you will.  It was fun to splatter paint here.

base texture spots

I do not know what I’m going to do with this canvas because I don’t like it! I enjoyed the creation process but don’t like how it turned out and don’t like looking at it.  Any thoughts?

Supplies used:

  • Texture streaks: Liquitex modeling paste, Golden Coarse Pumice Gel
  • Paints: Artist’s Loft Acrylic Mars Black and Gouache; Blick Matte Acrylic Violet Deep, Red Light, Sage Blue, Violet Light; Golden Fluid Acrylic Cerulean Blue Deep and Carbon Black; Anita’s Acrylic Daffodil; Sargent Acrylic Titanium White; Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Acrylic Satin in Wild Blueberry and Sterling; Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic White Pearl
  • Glitter: Barbara Trombley’s Art Glitter: Black Opaque and Lemone Transparent

You can see more “Behind the Art” posts here

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10 Responses to When you open your heart

  1. Aunt Val says:

    White wash it and reuse the canvas. Next time you paint on it, remember to paint the background first. The roughness may surprise you or even inspire you on your next creative adventure.

  2. Cathy H. says:

    It’s a true learning experience when we step out of our box and explore new techniques. I think your Aunt Val has an excellent idea…paint over it! You can cover the darkness of the world, that this symbolizes, with your beautiful artwork. Know the darkness is still there, but our faith can bring us peace.
    Cathy H. recently posted…How’s the Weather?My Profile

  3. i love how you’re letting art take you on a journey
    and not pushing or forcing it
    …how you’re opening your heart
    to the process:)
    I think that grows our love.
    much grace to you along the way,
    Jennifer Richardson recently posted…January rising…My Profile

  4. Some people scrub the canvas off and start over, others just toss ‘em. I think I’m in the toss ‘em camp. This would not have been my favorite exercise either…XO
    janet forrest recently posted…Found TreasuresMy Profile

  5. Carla Bange says:

    I think I would cover it with gesso, leave the texture and create something new. But… since no one else is speaking on behalf of this piece, I feel obliged to (play devils advocate and such). What if you re-visioned it? Look at it differently? Imagine all of the things it could be instead of what you originally intended. For example, to me it looks like the beach and ocean waves rolling out to sea towards an island in the top corner. Imagine the texture as coral reef and the spots as sea life. Let your creative mind re-interpret what you’ve made… that’s what art is anyway, right? What one thinks it represents, what impact it has on the viewer, not necessarily what it was intended to represent.

    • Naomi says:

      Carla, I just love that idea of the waves! Thank you for suggesting I give it another chance! I’ll keep you posted.

  6. Cindi says:

    I think it’s pretty Naomi! I think that’s the really lovely thing about art. We may not always like what we create but thankfully everyone is different. Everyone sees things differently. Even the part that you said was ugliness on the ground was pretty to me! I think one idea is to give your canvas away? I know it’s been awhile since you posted this and maybe you already had a great idea. But I really think someone would love this!

    • Naomi says:

      Thank you for saying that, Cindi. I tossed it in the back of my supply closet to think about another time. :)

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