‘Towards the light’ is my latest commission, soon to be hung in a lovely room where people go, quite simply, ‘to feel better’. I was given free rein with the subject but my self-brief was to use the warmest possible tones to depict a path of light, a ‘route home’ – to source and to wellness. I’m eager to share how the painting came about from that starting point because what unfolded became something of a journey for me too; the end result – a painting that not only depicts a journey back to source but which seems to have tapped into my own creative source along the way!
The inspiration for this one came, as always, from a photograph and the intensity of a remembered experience on one of my walks but, for some reason, painting this subject became a real struggle for me – even when other paintings I was working on were flowing easily. Much of the paint was scraped off or over-painted more than once, I tore at my hair…and then even tried taking photographs of the half-finished canvas and recalibrating the colours digitally to get the balance right (in a sort of David Hockney kind of way, using digital paintbrushes and a great deal of the reversible experimentation this unleashes), but all to no avail as I still wasn’t happy with the result. In despair, I was at the point of giving up and starting on something completely different when I decided to have one very last stab – and, no longer caring about the outcome, simply ‘let go’ to the point I was now painting ‘from within’ rather than ‘from without’; rebalancing the colours and perspective to my own intention by just letting it flow without thought or analysis – and, in fact, from that place it came quickly and easily and was suddenly done. In fact, I was almost suspicious of how easy it had suddenly become, as though I was kidding myself that this last effort was really worthy of being called ‘finished’; yet somehow I knew that it was.
The painting was left to dry and scrutinised for a few days but it was only on deciding that it really was ‘done’ – and, in fact, as I was uploading it to my website this morning – that it hit me that the final version included the colours of each and every one of the chakras and exactly as I visualise them – including the fact that I had got rid of all the (many and) various other shades of green that had been tried without success and replaced them with the very emerald green that I associate with my heart chakra (and often focus on in meditation) and then used this in spade-loads so that it now became a predominant colour, quite literally grounding the composition! Having ridded myself of many yellows, the sky and path of light had now been warmed through with the very saffron hue that is so familiar to me as the warm-yolky glow that seemed to switch on in my solar plexus at the beginning of my own journey towards health and self-expression. Encouraged by this warmth, the eye is irresistibly drawn to the pulsating red-into-orange-into-yellow of the first three chakras that hold centre stage like some sort of celebration of all that it is to be alive and part of this physical landscape and yet, even then, the whole composition still failed to balance until I’d embellished with highlights of blue and, ultimately, ‘crown chakra’ violet (both absent from all of my earlier versions). A key alteration was to the positioning of the sun which, in earlier versions, was off-centre so that the path of light was also sweeping to the side – something which wasn’t working in spite of the fact that the photograph I had started from demonstrated that this perspective could lead the eye in a way that was appealing and naturalistic. No longer convinced, I altered the perspective so that all of the fragmented colours were now drawn together – and so merged – into the pure white light of universal oneness at the very centre; and, with that important change, it was suddenly ‘voila’!
The thing that has shaken me most is that all of these colour-tweaks were entirely instinctive so that – whilst I can wax lyrical about chakras and colours merging together into ‘oneness’ now – there were no thoughts of this, in fact no thoughts at all, as I painted. As I was hit by the realisation that I had been on a creative journey lead entirely by the agenda of something much vaster than my conscious-self – call it my higher self, the universe, ‘source’, whatever you feel comfortable with – I found tears welling in my eyes and I became so choked I could hardly put into words what I had just realised; it was quite literally overwhelming. It certainly feels like I’ve been witness to something playing through me in a way that is so much more momentous than I can fully explain but which I long to experience again…and I know, in sharing, there will be more than a few of you out there – artists and other creatives included – who will understand where I’m coming from and recognise the sheer awe that accompanies this process of tapping into higher source in a way that turns everything that was previously difficult into effortless flow.
See “Towards the light” and more at http://www.helenwhite.org