Understand that your paintings are you on those canvases. The feelings, emotions, journeys of a lifetime combined with your special eye and abilities to move paint. It’s working because you are being free and being Caroline.
Thirteen years, I spent taking care of others’ artistic expression. As an art therapist, that was my job, what I was trained to do. The encouragement, I consistently provided to my clients to pick up a pencil or paintbrush, and put themselves on that piece of paper or canvas. I remember the newly found pride in their artwork. They weren’t all masterpieces (in a commercial sense) but they were a morsel of themselves, exposed and for all to see, even if it was just me, their therapist taking a peek. It takes courage and sometimes a little bravado they didn’t even know, they had.
I left art therapy back in NY, when I crossed the ocean to start a new life in France with my family. I made a conscious decision to do so. I thought after 37 years of life, which I had spent mostly taking care of others (including being a parent-child), it was time to focus on me and what I wanted out of this journey. Well, it took another 7 ½ years to actually put a paintbrush in my hand! Yup, I’m the art therapist who couldn’t make art. From the time I went into the art therapy program at NYU, I stopped making art for me. If I’m honest, I only made art if I had too, since I was 15 years old.
When I was a child, my father and I made art. He was my teacher. He helped me with technique. He took me to museums. He taught me to see color, lines, and shapes everywhere. I learned so much from him. And he always pushed me to test myself. If I failed, I was encouraged to keep drawing and not give up. And that even mistakes sometimes turn into blessings of their own. He provided a rich emotional & creative upbringing. It all lasted until my parents’ relationship collapsed and so did my bond with father. His choice, not mine…not by a long shot! I think it’s taken me 30 years to pick up the pieces of my creative self. I not only owe that to myself, but to a husband who has always encouraged me to do what I love. He bought me my first easel. He gifted me art supplies. He’s made sure I have the time to make art. And if it wasn’t for him coming to me in early September of 2018, saying “I need you to paint a backdrop for a client’s shoot next week. It needs to look something like this (shows me a photo)”, I probably wouldn’t be on this path.
With a roller in hand, surrounded by buckets of paint and a looming deadline, I still couldn’t paint. Even the ability to produce because I had to for school or work, disappeared. And this is where Susanna comes into my creative journey. She walked into our studio and gave the best pep talk I had ever had. “You need to be free.” she said, “Do whatever you need to do to get there. When you get there, you’ll be able to paint, and only then.” She was right. I had to let go. So, I locked myself in the studio, blasted me some Green Day, put my hair in a bun and started painting with abandon. And haven’t stopped since.