Before Plin left to go back to LA, we had a chat about his newest shutter piece in South London. I told him that I wished I could paint but I have no talent as a visual artist. And then I remembered that I had taken a “seeing drawing” course a hundred years ago. I found that drawing helped me to really look and to see what was before me. By the end of the course, some of what I drew actually looked like well…what was in front of me. I never really learned to draw, but it did help to look and deeply “see.”
Plin (bless him) was ever the encourager. He said: “Everyone is creative in some way.”
As a child, I was creative. I made up stories and plays and sang rock operas with my friends and by the time I was 12, I was writing poetry in both English and in French. What seemed to matter, however, was that I was good in Math.
A couple days after my last conversation with Plin, I went looking for the piece in South London. It took me two trips to find it. On that second trip, I was processing a nasty text message from a man in my life, “The Photographer”. He had been hanging around for months and, although charming at first, was proving himself to be arrogant and increasingly, belittling.
Dealing with him was leaving me feeling bad.
“Never mind,” I thought. I was determined to find that lovely shutter piece by Plin and as I tried to match the sidewalk and awning in the only existing photo of the painting to the world I saw around me, I thought warmly about Plin. I had met him only briefly a couple of times but I always walked away from the encounters feeling more able to be myself than I had with most people. He brought out a playful side of me, and, I was happy about who I was.
When I found his piece, it had been painted with a hateful tag. The café owner told me it had happened almost immediately – and was possibly the work of some locals feeling territorial and jealous.
I don’t know why I am recalling this story today. I am learning to follow my intuition calling from the Oneness of the collective unconscious and my mind has been called to that mural several times this week. Maybe the hateful tag was a cry from the community for something that needs healing. Maybe people that have never been given the gift of art do not know how to relate to it and don’t recognise that they, too, have the ability to be “creative in some way” or maybe when they expressed the essential part of themselves from which all art comes, they faced ridicule.
We learn by the modelling we receive. Those who have been abused either grow up accepting it, or they project it outward, until a new model comes along and, in time, a new way of being can be learned. Maybe that tag was a sign that more art and more love is needed in that part of London, not less of it. I don’t know. But, since it is calling to me, I will include that part of London in my healing service tonight.
Standing in the fading afternoon light and seeing all of Plin’s beautiful work tagged up so hatefully was heartbreaking. Feeling sadness over his work allowed me to get in touch with my other pain. On the way home that night, I sent a response by text message to “The Photographer” and I ended things with him.
Later that week, when I was stuck with a block in my writing, I pulled out my coloured ball point pens and “drew” a stick figure “portrait” of Plin that I hoped would make him laugh. It was not as elegantly executed as a 5 year old could achieve, and yet, when I stepped back and looked at it, to me, it actually captured a sense of his essence.
Children, before conditioned, understand and live from their essence. Life is creative play. How they view and value that essence and whether they continue to play and experiment has a lot to do with their modelling.
Today I am grateful for encouraging models. I am grateful for the kindness of Plin and for the opportunity to witness the juxtaposition of his beautiful mural with that hateful tag just as I was dealing with the abusive Photographer. If I hadn’t been there, with the confluence of all those forces, it might not have been so clear – hateful tags on our art and our essence are never to be tolerated.
I am grateful for my friend and painter, Michael Frey, who encourages me to just have fun with visual imagery and laughs with me as I learn to draw like a child. I know that he has loved me through my best and worst times and he accepts and loves the essence of who I am.
I am grateful for Anna Laurini, the painter, who didn’t laugh at me when I said I would like to try to learn to paint. She told me where to buy paint and brushes in London and advised me which ones to buy, as a beginner. She also encourages me to just have fun. Whenever I see her now, she asks me how my painting is going.
I haven’t started painting; I bought a sketch pad and some sketching pencils and I let myself just have fun again, recently. I created a stick figure “portrait” of my friend, Ax. I did not try “seeing drawing” but just played and drew with abandon. It was nothing short of a disasterpiece, but it was a joy to create.
Sometimes we have to remake our childhood and learn to play again, in order to accept and love the essence of who we are. I am not a visual artist; I am a writer. But as long as I am still breathing, there is still time to play.
For what are you grateful today?