Be the Rain : the story of a painting
I found a big wood cradle board of artwork measuring three by three feet in one of those donation type stores where you go hounding for household fixtures and used furnishings. They had a small closet of a nook that was scantily clad with a few artworks. None of them compelling until I spied this beast of art. It demanded to be seen by it's sheer size alone.
The artwork was stripes of bold colors. Was it a flag of some kind ? I had to have it.
I sanded the painting with my electric orbital sander which revealed many pockmarks in the wood. I could not sand it completely smooth. I liked it. I liked how this canvas was unique with it's underlayer of sanded down paint and little pit marks. It made for an interesting texture and energy on the art.
I set about painting whatever colors appealed to me, soft yellows swirling with patches of blues and light reds peeking through. Then, I loaded my paintbrush with black and scrawled across the field of colors these words :
Beautiful You Are Scars and All
It felt fitting. I had so much resonance with this old canvas and it's imperfect skin. It was scarred up which is what made it so remarkable. Scars are our stories, our beauty marks if we can see the beauty in them. I saw so much beauty in this canvas.
It hung in my studio for about a year. One day I decided to paint over it. Artists do this all the time. We paint over existing paintings to make new paintings. It felt right.
I laid down new colors allowing just a little bit of the old painting to remain. I added patterns as I saw fit. Umbrellas emerged from my imagination. A circle. A heart aflame. As I tinkered with it one night my shadow cast a silhouette of my curvy body onto the art. That sparked my imagination. I couldn't reach the canvas to draw it as I stood in the light. When my boyfriend came over I tasked him to help me. I found the curved line of my body an interesting mark to add to the artwork. It is evocative for the viewer who can decide to see whatever they see.
When I finished the painting I leaned in to listen to it, a practice I have with all my artworks. Art tells a story, for the artist first. What was the story here?
Be the rain, I heard as I soaked up the colors and patterns on this large painting.
Be the rain.
I have never used this phrase before. Be the rain. I've never even heard this phrase used before. What did it mean? Yet I knew it was the story of the art which meant somehow it was my story, too. My work of self-discovery is often deepened through the rituals of art making.
As I reflected on this art, I began to realize that Rain for me, being a Pacific Northwest woman, is so life giving. We celebrate rain so much where I live. A rainy day is a good day. Rain nourishes our green forests and lush gardens. Rain washes away the dust of everyday life (to borrow a quote from Picasso for those who know it...!) Rain gives life to farmlands and woodland creeks. Rain helps protect against summertime wild fires. Rain is powerful.
To Be the Rain is to be nourishing, for myself as well as for others. To Be the Rain is to contribute to my personal ecosystem in a lifegiving way whatever eco system of relationships and community I may find myself in.
To Be the Rain is to Be Loving and Kind.
This is the story of this painting for me. I find it interesting that underneath the affirming words to be the rain are the words, Beautiful You are Scars and all. It is as if this painting ties together how what we think makes us weak and marred can actually be what makes us able to create goodness for others. From our scars come cleansing rains that soothe and cleanse.
This painting is meant to live on. It is meant to be viewed to tell it's story and evoke the imagination of many others. I know that the right buyer will come along at the right time to possess this artwork. In this way, I am Rain as I provide others art to nourish their lives.