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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Webb Artist

How Doing Big Art Liberates The Self

Most of us are confined to living in a box our whole lives. I found myself stuffed into a box that was way too small for me, and at times I would have no choice but to break out of it and express myself in whatever way that my energy and life force felt appropriate at the time. Breaking out of my box became more frequent in my teens and I was labeled 'a rebel'. A term that I came to quite like and identify with. I realised very early on that I was a fringe dweller, one that didn't quite fit into the mould of 'normal'. I asked a lot of questions to try to understand, and challenged the status quo if it didn't feel quite right. At a young age we are taught to conform, to forget those gifts and love for art, dance, and play that come naturally to us. The penalty for not conforming is harsh, and so most of us put away our art, dance, and play, and shrink ourselves into our little boxes where most of us remain for all of our lives.

I realised that although I was 'a rebel', a lot of me through habit and fear of consequences had come to live in a box. It wasn't until I reached my forties that my box started to feel really uncomfortable. It had become like a tight shoe that was pinching and giving me blisters. I had simply outgrown it. My love for dabbling in all things creative started to come back, which is when I started art classes. I discovered during the art class that I was still carrying a lot of fear within me to conform. I was still extremely pedantic about colouring within the lines and making sure I didn't make any mistakes, for fear of the consequences. I could feel that there was a fire burning in me that longed to break out and express itself more fully, so I stopped doing the realistic art that my art teacher was teaching me and the class and announced that I wanted to do abstract art on really big canvas.

I had thrown my box away and was ready to jump off the cliff both feet first and blind folded. Many sages and philosophers talk about the the birthing of creativity in the void of unknowing. To do this we have to relinquish the know for the unknown. The 'known' is a prisoner of past conditioning the 'unknown' in every moment is the fresh field of all possibilities. It is in the chaos and the fear that we find a new way forward, a way that suddenly appears, and I did. My new foray into abstract art was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I was finally rediscovering the real me, the me that came to this earth to express itself in its own unique way. No box! No rules! I embraced the ambiguity, paradox, uncertainty, and even chaos at times as I stumbled through my first few abstracts. The more I allowed the proliferation of uncertainty in the moment, the more I was tapping into inside, intuition, creativity, higher vision, and the sacred.

When I threw away my box it didn't just affect me, but had a spill out affect on my teacher 'a realist' artist, and all those in the class. Soon everyone was trying bold new things that they had never done before. Friends who came by to visit and saw the big abstract art I was doing, then went on to take up art or tried something new in their life that they had never done before. The taste of 'freedom' is contagious. Freedom to be authentically you, freedom to express yourself fully. When you tap into the unknown, breathe and move in it, you become FREE!

I have noticed since doing big abstract art that I have become fearless in my life, there is a new air of confidence about me, and I am much more relaxed and in the flow. Each time I do a big new abstract painting it teaches me so much about myself. If there are any bits left of the old remnants of my box that still feel constrictive they will usually come up in the process of painting. I look at them, I laugh, and then I let them go!

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!"

Helen Keller

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