“What do you want to paint?” My friend asked before we entered her studio.

A huge mixed-media canvas with music-sheet Aspen trunks and brightly textured orange, yellow and gold leaves greats us as we go in. “You could help me with this,” she says, gesturing to the masterpiece.

I don’t say no but I feel a distinct pull away from contributing to her own work.

“Darkness.” I say, finally, after some awkwardly exchanged glances of uncertainty. “Well, not darkness… Like void, or a tunnel…”

“Some type of retreating vortex!” I finally exclaim after tripping over my thoughts for a moment. My friend gives me an amused, “oh really?” kind of glance.

“Yea, I mean, I don’t know what I want to paint, but that’s what it feels like…”

She doesn’t argue or try to clarify anymore before pulling out some fresh canvas for me. I suppose in a couple decades she’s had the opportunity to meet my oddities time and time again already, why should this lack of descriptive inspiration be any different?

She also advises oil paints so my medium remains malleable while I attempt to pull my art from my essence and plaster it over the crisp-white blankness of my fresh canvas.

I mix burnt umber and cobalt blue to make black, smashing the paint right into the middle of the waiting space. Swirling my brush around, I let the movements and strokes take me into a trance-like state of patient non-judgement and curiosity. Soon my brush is twirling and spinning on the pallet and then again on the canvas. Back and forth, around and around, my brush twisting dramatically to leave globs of texture and color behind.

The painting begins to emerge from within the paint: a dark rose…

Return to the Void; Oil on Canvas

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