Two friends recently gifted me with the means to do one of the things I love: lay down colors and simply follow the impulses generated by doing so. The first of these gifts were two sets of coloring designs, created by Richard Stocker with many more available online at:
The second gift was a set of 48 fine artists pens in a wild assortment of colors. I had been using a set of 8 of these pens to color the designs, and the gift was Christmas morning, my birthday, and all other such events rolled into one. I was a kid playing with joy and abandon. I had been saving this particular design because it was complex, but as I was doing others, I began to title them based on the thoughts and odd phrases that were circling through my mind while so engaged.
This is therapy, pure and simple. The hands are busy, the logic part of the brain is engaged in the doing, and the rest of the mind is totally free to explore, making connections and associations. I simply started out to see how many different colors I could use from the pen set. By the time I was finished, I realized that I had created an image of myself at the age I have been writing about on this blog: age four.
The whole of the design, with all of its colors, makes me think of a little girl in her grandmother’s finery of feathers and fur. And although I used well over half of the colors now gifted and available to me, it doesn’t look garish, or in any way discordant. It is all of a piece. That little girl is standing on one foot, the other raised beneath her hem, prepared to move in whichever direction she might choose. But the exposed foot seems to hold an anchor, a weight that holds her in place, keeping her from flying away. That would be my family at that point in time.
The head of the image is distorted, overly large like a wide brimmed hat. It reminds me of the terrific number of things that had been added to my burgeoning worldview after the accident, and the attempts I made to keep it all contained in some fashion. While the ‘feathers and fur’ are a definite symbol of the Wild Things that were being birthed inside of me, their scent now familiar, but strange, and inviting even more exploration. Tendrils of newly awakened senses reaching out to examine and define the new world I found myself inside of, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I titled the image, Dying-to-Live. I see it as representing the new Wild Things I had encountered outside of my family circle and how much they wanted to get outside to play, to simply be. It took years to allow that to actually happen, years filled with confusion, and numerous untold attempts to simply understand. But understanding has come, and with it resolution, and a peace within that is even more difficult to define. I love the image and what it says to me, about me, and the world I alone inhabit. A world I am more than willing to share with anyone who would lean in and listen.