Painting with intent

"I love the intent look on your face when you paint", commented a friend from New York City, an accomplished poet and academic, on Facebook last night.

As I was intently painting when I saw it pop up on my iPhone, I looked left and I looked right, asking myself "How is she watching me?"

Photo by Greg Halinda, Greg Halinda Photography

It took about 5 seconds for me to realize that she was referring to the photo on top of my Russell Thomas Art Facebook Page, a shot taken by Greg Halinda at the We Love the Oil Sands event that happened just a few days before the wildfires forced the evacuation of our city.  I was absolutely "intent" that night.  In fact, that feeling of being intentional absorbs me every time I work on a painting.

Last night, I was about half way through a new portrait of B.B. King, a commission project for a client, painting the second coat of the black background, when that feeling washed over me.  I was methodically covering that area of the canvas with black, totally focused and present.  I have to admit that I love the feeling of being so embraced by a painting that I lose track of time.

I'm intentional about this journey in several different ways.  First, I go into each painting with the total belief that it is what I'm meant to be creating in that moment.  In other words, I'm not thinking in any way, shape of form about what is next.  There is only what is now.  There is also an intention to respect each painting, and trust that I will take it where it needs to go.  It is only after we arrive, together, that the journey will come to an end.

For instance, my journey with B.B. King needed to be paused last night, as I knew two things: 1) that I wouldn't finish with the time that I had, and 2) I needed to go away from it for a night.  I tend to do a lot of painting in my sleep, exploring new ideas and overcoming challenges.

There is all an intentionality in my work ethic, the number of hours that I spend in the studio, and my commitment to move forward every day.  I can't explain it.  There is something inexplicable inside of me that is driving me, a hidden force that I sense but can't pin down.  Perhaps it is rooted in a feeling of awe and respect that this thing found me, rather late in life - I was 47 when this crazy wild colour painting ride began.  Either way, I am deeply committed to this process, and am giving it everything that I have.

Do I know where I am going with my painting?  No bloody idea.  That's the best part.  Do I trust that it will take me where I'm meant to be?  Absolutely.  I'm intent on going wherever it takes me.


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