I absolutely am in love with Tracy Verdugo’s Paint Mojo approach to painting. It is intuitive, based in a love of symbolism, an invitation to stretch yourself and let go of what painting is supposed to look like….it is beautiful and messy all in the same moment. And sometimes the messies is where the beauty really surprises you!
I wanna share the evolution of my painting so you can get a feel for the way the workshop went. But realize I can’t boil down a two day workshop into a small post. So if you want the expanded version, you will have to catch Tracy the next time she comes around or….OR….. Head over and sign up for her upcoming Paint Mojo book. (Can you say, Santa’s wish list??! I am eagerly awaiting mine!)
Wanna dive into my Paint Mojo process with me? Come on in!
Tracy had us start our large piece by adding symbols to our painting. This is the same way she started the first Paint Mojo I attended and I loved the idea so much that I have created a Symbol Journal that I have been filling with interesting symbols for the last year.
Inside my Symbol Journal, I collect and record personal symbols that have shown up in my life with deep meaning or that have come in for a day that seem to capture the moment in a certain way. When I apply them to my paintings, they flesh out a new story for me.
Some of the symbols you might see in my painting (and their meanings for me) include a flower (growth), spiral (going inward), doorway (entering another realm), heart with cross at the bottom (neverending love), flaming chalice (sacred woman), female reproductive system (personal healing), and pelvic bone (cradle of creation)… to name a few.
Next we added color washes. These have the potential to bring the painting to life and give it cohesion.
It may take a patient eye to look for differences between these two pics. At this layer we took small paintings we did as automatic responses to a poem and added them to the painting. It was a stretch, but added more dimension and interest to the canvas.
I know it is a big jump from this image to the next. My camera gave out on me, so some of it will remain a mystery.
At the very end, we looked into the mess of colors, symbols, textures, and marks that we had created and attempted to cull something out of it. I sat with trust and tried to be open. I felt a twinge of fear that I might not find something or that I might fall into having to force an image out, but in the end, a woman showed herself to me.
The skirt (or waist as it is now) was the first part to peek out. Then, as I worked with her, she showed me her fabulous mermaid tail. I was overwhelmed once I got her sketched out. So much so, that I started to crying. The image touched something deep inside.
I continued to work with her and soon, the moon over her womb appeared. It was perfect. The symbols I had chosen were my way of calling up the feelings and themes that circle around the uterine cancer diagnosis that I got this summer and the upcoming surgery that will ultimate leave me physically unable to have children. I went to the workshop knowing I wanted to “go there”….knowing I wanted to give myself space to explore what not having a uterus will mean. I also wished to invite myself to a new understanding of the womb itself. As I painted, I asked myself, Is the womb a physical thing or could it be more?
The mermaid showing up as she did helped me somehow re-vision myself. Uterus or not, I am a woman. Or as the painting whispered to me that day in the circle of my Paint Mojo sisters….I am a Womb-Moon. From the day I was born until the day I die….I am a creatrix… a supracreative… a spinner of dreams into reality…. a holder of space for the birthing of delicate cries for grand existence. Take any part of the body away and I am still as much so….and perhaps with the trance-formation, even more.
That’s my mojo….ultimately.
Big thanks to Tracy for unleashing such beauty from each of us, for opening a circle that could hold our inner world as we turned it into an outer work, and for guiding our hands and hearts on the journey to discover our MOJO! You are a dear friend and a gift!