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One of the Secrets

By Michael Divine on July 10th, 2015

Photo of the Moment

Here is one of the secrets of my work:

I paint what I feel like.

No need to mask your disappointment. You thought there’d be more. But that’s the truth of it. There’s a lot of people in the world doing things that they are not. They do things they don’t like, that they don’t condone, that they aren’t proud of, all for reasons they aren’t entirely clear on. There’s also a lot of people trying to be something other than what they are – some idealized version of themselves, with some plan, some big vision, posturing to be of this or that.

There is also a great big world around me insisting that I need to be all kinds of things to complete myself and that it has all the answers as to why I feel so terribly incomplete. Yet what that world will rarely admit to is that the belief of your own incompleteness is part of the equation. Every religion, every corner store, every government works very hard on wedging itself firmly between YOU and everything else and telling you how they complete you.

And it’s true. They do all complete me. Because they are all me. And there is no escaping that and I move on.

So I ask myself “self? how do you feel?” Because there are many voices telling me what to be and how to feel and what to believe, but only I actually know deep down what is going on inside of myself.

Maybe it’s summer and I feel like summer and the sun is out and the windows are wide open and on days like this I feel invincible or, at least, impressively optimistic. So I ask: what does that look like?

Maybe it’s winter and the tides are receding and the rivers are slowing and my blood, exercise and take care of myself tho I do, feels thick. Maybe I feel more patient and I want to explore what it looks like when the windows are closed and the sun disappears.

Maybe now I feel like great broad brushstrokes that have all wrapped up within them all of my passion, my doubts, my fears, my dreams.

Maybe now I feel like fine delicate lines that are the painted diadems on the eyelid of the divine.

Maybe now I feel the slow somber beauty of decay.

Maybe I feel both at exactly the same time and that’s just fine too. Because underneath every feeling is another feeling. Beneath every desire is another desire and another one and another and so on. Follow every one to it’s absolute end. Use your work as your meditation. You were blessed with a tool all your own for your own personal salvation. Use your work to complete yourself.

If your art is what you feel like, you will never run out of fodder. The heart of your work will be flawless. It will be rock solid to it’s core.

People will discuss your technique, your brushwork. They will find things to marvel at and they will find places to critique. That’s ok: we all have room to grow. I do. We all do. That’s life! So we continue on, with patience and care, following those threads to their most complete ends.

If you are ever without doubt as to what to paint, start with what you feel like.

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