Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Water Moves the Color

I am participating in a four part Art and Meditation workshop. That doesn’t sound like such a remarkable thing until you know that I am a bit phobic about art. I joke (but not really joking) that my sister got all the artistic talent in the family. She is indeed a wonderful artist and my home is graced by several of her lovely paintings.

I feel about a blank piece of art paper the way some people feel about a blank screen when they are trying to write. So if you really understand how reluctant I am to do anything even remotely artistic, you will marvel at my willingness to try out this workshop. I marvel at it myself. The meditation aspect was the hook – THAT I’m comfortable with. And so I went.

And here is what happened….

The director of the workshop, Margaret, began with all of us in a sitting area. So far so good. I can sit. Tables and shelves in another part of the room were filled with all kinds of art supplies. I tried not to look. Her presence was calm and her words aimed to reassure. This was not about producing a certain product using specific techniques. This was about exploring, playing, discovering, allowing. Blah, blah, blah. Anxiety nipped at my heels.

Then, in giving us a brief orientation to the materials, she used the phrase “Water moves the color.” My soul phone rang and I hesitatingly answered. Hello? As we settled into meditation, those words held out their hands, inviting me to dance.

After a period of silence, we moved into the art area. I felt excited and a tiny bit brave. I picked a large piece of watercolor paper taped to a board and sat with it flat on the table in front of me. I closed my eyes and moved my hands over the paper. It wasn’t so scary if I couldn’t see it. I chose a few colors and squeezed the paint out beside the paper.

No brushes, I decided. Just my hands, water, and color. I cupped my hands into the water container and soaked the paper until it was saturated. Then I stuck my hands in the paint, closed my eyes again, and let my fingers dance in the puddles. There was color everywhere. I picked up the board, tilting the paper this way and that.

And guess what…water moved the color! Across the ridges and into the valleys created by the wet paper. It was amazing. But the water wasn’t done. I laid the board on the table again, and over time, as the paint and paper dried, shapes and lines emerged that could not have been predicted. It was like the water itself was painting. I was simply a witness to its own creative dynamic. It was all a beautiful surprise, one I neither envisioned nor controlled.

Just … like … life.

To learn more about Margaret and her soul enriching offerings, click here to visit her website. 

18 thoughts on “Water Moves the Color”

  1. If ever there was an "amen," Galen, it is to this post of your transforming experience. No brushes. Nothing intended. Letting the water and color flow from unfettered hands that expect nothing, yet receive everything. Oh, how God continues to surprise us, and provide wonders for our eyes and hearts to cherish!
    Blessings, my friend!

  2. Indeed, Martha! I'm having so much fun with this. I now have my own supplies, and I stand at the kitchen sink and soak page after page of watercolor paper, and let the water lead the color in the dance of creation.

  3. Oh how I hear you! I've been harping on about watercolour and life for the longest time and I am so, so, so happy to hear that you, dear Galen, have been able to experience first hand the joys (and challenges) of letting the water and paint go. That's the secret to watercolour. Letting go. Allowing the water to move the paint … the colour. It's a leap of faith! And as you say … just … like … life.

    How wonderful!

  4. Jean! It's so great to hear from you! You are such a gifted artist and I have loved your watercolor (or watercolour Down Under!) paintings for years. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

  5. Love your work of art! I must try this. As for life… mine has always been a little out of control, but in a good way.

  6. Thanks, Judy. All our lives are out of our control. We just don't admit it and we keep struggling to exert control that we will never have. And yes, it's all good.

    As the saying goes "For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe."

  7. Ooh, listen… Can you hear them? Those creative Sprites dancing their joyous dance all over your house! (That's why Rosie has been acting a wee bit skittish recently!) They are like effervescent bubbles floating all around you!

    Your painting, (I wish I could explain this better,) is you turned inside out. It's as if something swiped away all of your "non-essential stuff" and what was left looked like this picture!

    You have overcome what every artist (Or for that matter) everyone has to face. Getting out of your comfort place and swiping away those nagging feelings that these people are… or I am not…

    You have inspired me to do more of this! Thank you Galen for your posts. They are always uplifting and thought provoking!

    Can't wait to see you this summer!

  8. Betty, when you are here, let's play in the paint! Can't wait to see you too! Thank you so much for reflecting back to me what this experience has been like.

  9. Well you certainly got over your phobia! I used to teach watercolour classes, so when I first saw your picture I had to restrain myself from looking at how it was achieved. But the real magic of watercolour comes out best with abstract free play and this tunes into meditation and contemplation because of that time factor going on as the water slowly dries and goes through so many stages of being. It's just perfect for this and wish you much joy of it. Another thing you might like is to dab on blobs of colour (like an ink consistency) on wet paper or dry and blow the paint through a straw directing it with your breath through the straw or not as the case may be. Wishing you much joy and fun from water moving the colour!

  10. Thanks for the encouragement, Lynne. And for the suggestion about blowing through a straw. I will try that.

    About getting over the phobia, I think the magic for me was just putting all the elements on the page–water and color–and letting water do the painting. I love watching the color move, and then I like checking in on the drying process to see what is emerging. It is a surprise every time.

    The BIG lesson for me, though, is how this relates to life. When I am the color, and I allow water (life, the universe, God, whatever word you want to use) to move me naturally, wonder and beauty happen. It is a practice of surrendering in trust and faith that all is well.

    As to how that painting was achieved, I have no idea, and would never be able to duplicate it. As it should be….

  11. Dixie! Thank you, my dear friend. This post has been fun because I'm hearing from all my brilliant artist friends. Email me and catch me up on how you are. Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Love you!

  12. Oh, Galen, it's so beautiful and expressive! It reminds me of a riotous field of wildflowers, growing in perfect harmony without any plan at all. Love it! 🙂

  13. Yes, indeed – as it should be, No to duplicates. I love your relating the water and colour to life…there's that Taoist phrase that comes up again here – going with the flow of your own nature

  14. Water is a pervasive theme in the Tao Te Ching. It is the image most often used to describe the nature of Tao. And I'm reminded of Bruce Lee's advice "Be water, my friend."

  15. Wow, I love the painting and your story of how it all came about. I think it was a powerful moment. I like the idea of Water moves the Color. I think this would be a very fun class and would help with stress and other mental struggles. I know that my husband likes to paint and he says it is very relaxing. ]I too like the meditation was thrown into the idea.
    Loved this one! Loving thoughts and hugs~

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