Print of "Blame it on the Tetons" available here.
One more thing that we experimented with in Shaun McNiff's Art Therapy class was a process called "Imaginal Dialoging", which describes exactly what it is: a dialogue with an image. It was strange and awkward at first to do this, have a conversation with my picture, but after doing it a couple of times, I got more comfortable with it and found it an insightful self-inquiry tool. The following is a snippet of a "conversation" I had with an image that ended up being mountains. I did not have the intention to make "mountains" and so it felt significant to me that they appeared. Through the dialoging, I was able to get a better understanding of the painting. I am feeling a little bit vulnerable sharing this here, but I want my blog to be a place where I can be authentic, honest, and speak my truth. So here it is:
Me: Why am I still so mystified and drawn by these mountains? Why is it that they appear, even unintentionally? I wasn’t even trying to make mountains, much less ones that I recognized.
Painting: They have become a part of you. They inspired you. They made you feel whole. They represent something wild and curious in you that you both fear and revere.
Me: Yes I was always awed by their beauty and also humbled by their power. They made me feel small and also somehow made me feel closer to my own humanity, my own connection to the “something” bigger then me.
Painting: The Red, bright red. It’s thrilling and fierce and terrifying. The blues and purples are expansive, whole, they embrace you. They connect you to that “something bigger”.
Me: I feel trepidation about asking about the un-sharpied redish/brownish blot in the middle. I didn’t feel it needed the trace of black around it. Why? I am listening very closely to you and the word “heart” came up. Like a stab of heart, a splattering of heart. Like a splattering of my heart is still in the Tetons.
So that is what this piece is about? That seems too obvious. If I didn’t know that I didn’t mean to make a landscape of mountains with a splattering of paint that makes me think about my heart, I would think that I made this purposefully. Like to show how I miss living in the Tetons. But that wasn’t my intention. I was just plodding through my step-by-step process. And when I decided to cut out the mountains and plaster them onto a piece of masonite (in part so I can hang it in my bedroom diagonally from my huge Tetons poster), I went back through my journals from when I lived out there and pasted them to
hold the sky of the landscape.
From those journal words, I read about the gratitude and abundance I reminded myself to feel at that time. I realized that I fell in love with my life when I lived out there. I began to understand my dreams and became aware of where it was I wanted to go in life while I was living in the shadows of those mountains. So of course there is a splatter of my heart in that place.
Painting: yes. It was a reminder.
Me: Why am I in need of a reminder? What is the meaning of it’s reappearance in my life? (I am assuming it’s important for me to know?)
Painting: To remind you of how far you’ve come, of your journey to this present time and place. To remind you that you set things in motion back then that are coming into fruition now. That’s why you needed to cut out the mountains and paste them with your old journal entries. Because what did you find looking through them?
Me: my plans/dreams/ideas for a business, for working for myself and making art and teaching yoga. Scribbling of affirmations that I wrote down to try and get myself to have more gratitude for all I had and to have more trust that everything was going to work out.
Painting: And did it work out?
Me: I suppose so. But not in the way that I thought it would.
Painting: of course not. What would the fun be in that?