Do you trust me?

While I was still in Llanachamacocha in the rainforest in Ecuador in January of this year I made a quick little water colour sketch: it was an image of a woman that I had seen in a dream the night before. She stood in front of an elaborate green doorway and she peered our of a green haze of light. She asked me “Do you want to go through the door? Do you trust me enough?” In my dream I said I did … but then I got distracted and never got to see what was behind the door.   The ephemeral quality of the image in my mind was difficult to capture but I tried with water colour… and it caught something of what I had seen, but the woman’s questions and the image of her face stayed in my mind..and I wondered what was behind the door.

In March this year I decided to recreate this image at a larger scale in gouache paints.. so I sketched it out in charcoal on a 2m high 1.5m wide sheet and began to paint. The initial sketches felt ugly and clunky and didn’t at all capture the image of the woman’s face that I had seen in my dream so as I do, I left the painting for a while and came back to it. I came back to it and it improved a bit but I still failed to capture the essence of this woman and her question. I have come back to this painting over and over again.. and that is not an easy task when working with water based paint.. this exploration would have been easier working in oil..

So today I decide to give it one last shot.. but to my dismay still I have not come close to capturing this woman in any meaningful way.

A question I don’t usually have to ask myself when I’m painting is “Is it finished?”, I just know when it is. With this painting .. I don’t feel that its finished … but I don’t feel that the paper can take anymore layers of paint!

So I have put together some of the images that have appeared as I’ve painted… I have to say that I do like some of the details that I took from today’s last layer of paint…

After the paint dries though.. the painting comes down off the wall.. I feel disappointed to be ‘giving up on it’ as i don’t feel that its finished.. Each image that I paint teaches me something of what it is to let go and trust that what needs to emerge … so here is what emerged…