Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Painting, "Look at Your Feet; You are Standing in the Sky"

Look at Your Feet; You are Standing in the Sky
24" x 36" x 1.5"
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas

Some works come easily and flow through me almost as if I have nothing to do with them but act as the vessel. Not so with this one. I fought and fought with this painting.  

It started off as the one in the middle with all the reds at the top. Initially, it was my favorite in that whole bunch I was working on at the time. I loved it that day when I took the pic below sooo much and thought it was nearly finished...but then things took a downward turn. I kept messing it up. I was trying too hard with it; my expectations were so high from the very beginning that every time I touched it I was disappointed. 

Each time I would go out to the studio I would try and try to make it something better,  more significant. Then for the past week I moved it to a dark area in the studio and have literally been hiding from it.

In a parallel universe, the same sort of thing was going on in my yoga practice. One of my favorite things in the world to do besides love on my babies and paint is to practice yoga. Thanks to this journey into getting to know myself better, as well as wonderful community of friends and teachers at Exhale, my daily practice has become a well that I draw endless amounts of strength, energy and inspiration from

The elusive handstand is something I attempt nearly every class. When the kids and I are horsing around in the playroom, we often do our handstand hops. (My five-year-old is pretty fantastic, BTW.) I am far from getting it, but every day I try.   As my teacher Brooke says, "You will never improve at a posture if you don't at least attempt it. it is in the trying that you grow."  Sometimes I can't even get my hips over my shoulders, sometimes I get it and hang on for a second, sometimes I fall.

This morning in class I tried. And lo and behold I caught some air. I could tell I did something differently because this attempt felt effortless. For what felt like an eternity (but was probably more like 8 seconds), I hung out in my handstand.  I could feel the love and support of my teacher from across the room. For some crazy reason, my mind wandered to my art sketchbook from Senior Year in high school, and this particular sketch I had done that had always seemed sort of random but all of a sudden made perfect sense: 

(That is the picture from my actual sketchbook, done in 1997.)  

The words, "Look at Your Feet; You are Standing in the Sky" clicked into realization. And then just as my mind wandered, I fell--very ungracefully, but luckily didn't get hurt--out of my handstand. The moment passed and class moved on, but for me a fundamental shift had occurred.

I raced home, filled with energy and adrenaline. Luckily I had time in the studio today, and instead of running away from the painting I had grown to detest, I embraced it full-on, and added the layers of white and cream. Then I scraped away.  Then I added more layers of blues and turquoise, then I scraped away.  Vertical lines appeared, a virtual linear portrait of me in class this morning. 

Triumphant, the painting emerged.

So I will try again tomorrow, and again the day after that to do handstand. And I may get it but I probably won't. And my body will continue to be a vessel, a conduit, of energy and life and creativity. And I will remember that every day is a journey. And the journey itself is home.


  1. So glad you kept at this painting because it is stunning! I'd love to see your art in person one day... some day maybe. Hope you are having a fantastic summer!

  2. Wow, beautiful! You have some really great artwork! I love the colors.

    xo katie elizabeth

  3. Deborah, one day, for sure! Your lovely print is proudly displayed in my sister's house. Thank you for your comment, as I feel like this one was a bit of a breakthrough for me. I know you understand how exciting those can be.

    Katie Elizabeth, Thanks for stopping by! These colors really speak to me, and I'm glad you feel the same. You can link up with my art on Facebook here:


Gina Marie Dunn, Utopia Pkwy. Art Studio's Fan Box


Related Posts with Thumbnails