Gina Marie Dunn, Utopia Pkwy. Art Studio
Look At Your Feet; You Are Standing in the Sky
2012
Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas
24" x 36"
Some works come easily and flow through me almost as if I have nothing to do with them but act as the vessel. Not so with this one. I fought and fought with this painting.

Initially, it was my favorite in that whole bunch I was working on at the time...but then things took a downward turn. I kept messing it up. I was trying too hard with it; my expectations were so high from the very beginning that every time I touched it I was disappointed.

Each time I would go out to the studio I would try and try to make it something better, more significant. Then I moved it to a dark area in the studio and literally hid from it.

In a parallel universe, the same sort of thing was going on in my yoga practice. One of my favorite things in the world to do besides love on my babies and paint is to practice yoga. Thanks to this journey into getting to know myself better, as well as wonderful community of friends and teachers at Exhale, my daily practice has become a well that I draw endless amounts of strength, energy and inspiration from.

The elusive handstand is something I attempt nearly every class. When the kids and I are horsing around in the playroom, we often do our handstand hops. (My five-year-old is pretty fantastic, BTW.) I am far from getting it, but every day I try. As my teacher Brooke says, "You will never improve at a posture if you don't at least attempt it. it is in the trying that you grow." Sometimes I can't even get my hips over my shoulders, sometimes I get it and hang on for a second, sometimes I fall.

This morning in class I tried. And lo and behold I caught some air. I could tell I did something differently because this attempt felt effortless. For what felt like an eternity (but was probably more like 8 seconds), I hung out in my handstand. I could feel the love and support of my teacher from across the room. For some crazy reason, my mind wandered to my art sketchbook from Senior Year in high school, and this particular sketch I had done that had always seemed sort of random but all of a sudden made perfect sense:

The words, "Look at Your Feet; You are Standing in the Sky", which were a part of that sketch, clicked into realization. And then just as my mind wandered, I fell out of my handstand. The moment passed and class moved on, but for me a fundamental shift had occurred.

I raced home, filled with energy and adrenaline. Luckily I had time in the studio today, and instead of running away from the painting I had grown to detest, I embraced it full-on, and added the layers of white and cream. Then I scraped away. Then I added more layers of blues and turquoise, then I scraped away. Vertical lines appeared, a virtual linear portrait of me in class this morning.

Triumphant, the painting emerged.

So I will try again tomorrow, and again the day after that to do handstand. And I may get it but I probably won't. And my body will continue to be a vessel, a conduit, of energy and life and creativity. And I will remember that every day is a journey. And the journey itself is home.

Painting is on museum-quality, gallery-wrapped canvas, meaning there are no exposed staples. It is painted on all sides and arrives fully wired and ready to hang.
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