Creating Expanding Heart

Various stages of development.  Don't miss the little write-up I added below the images!


In progress

More progress

Almost done

Finished - see how just that little bit of white in the center makes all the difference?

The Story of Expanding Heart

This painting took nine months to complete. Interesting....The same time it takes to create a new life. And in many ways that is exactly what this painting did for me.

There were times of intense creativity while making this painting, followed by weeks of gestating, waiting for the next wave of inspiration to come. There are layers upon layers of color beneath the surface, unseen but still necessary. I never envisioned the final image, never knew the subject of the painting until it was complete.

As the in-progress images suggest, I painted this in every orientation, both on the wall and flat on a table. Going over areas again and again I thought were complete, not knowing the final destination or when I'd finally finish... Perhaps I had it all wrong and it was just a confusing mess on a very large canvas.

Finally I knew the painting was done, but still didn't understand it. I hung it on the wall and backed way up. Only then could I see that it was an expanding heart. Look at is not a gentle lotus flower opening its petals. It is being wrenched apart, broken open. 

I finally understood its message.  That difficult, traumatic breaking is necessary to allow the Light within to emerge.

While I created this image I simultaneously found myself needing to do deep forgiveness work towards myself and others, coming to accept things as they are, seeing perfection in the imperfection, feeling the grace, breathing gratitude.  The process of painting it taught me about patience and trust to a degree I didn't think possible. It took me through periods of chaos and deep uncertainty.

It showed me the gift hidden in all the blows to my heart over the years.  That I too had become a bit more expanded and shining a little more Light, like the painting.

A related passage from Song of the Circle

Barry Brailsford is my favorite author.  Hands down.  His "Song" book series is full of wisdom about how to live, how to love.  The following quote touched me deeply and resonates with this painting.  

"Some of us know the sadness of separation. We left marriages and relationships that broke down and still grieve for the dream that failed.

The old one felt the pain in these words and the need for healing. 'You saw the jagged rock that lodged in the river that flows through your life. It threatened everything you are and might be. You found the courage to face it, to challenge its power and leave.

It was a difficult choice but a true one if made from the heart to honor who you are.' He waited for a time to let these words find their place, then continued, 'I ask only one question of you. Is there forgiveness? By your answer you will mark the boundaries of your love, the path of your healing and the truth of your journey.'"