Running in Circles / by Hayden Michelle


On the last day of January, 2018, I decided to return to a practice of painting watercolors into circles, one which I began late in 2013.  Until this point, I had painted these very sporadically, and stopped completely for two and a half years, during which time we had a fire and shortly after, my mother died.  My energy was directed into restoration and recovery, and any creative time was channeled into encaustic work and photography.  Looking back, I wish I had been able to find the energy to paint during that time, knowing it would have brought respite and healing.  I came to realize that I really missed the stillness and introspection that came from letting the pigment flow with the water on paper, and could not find a satisfying rhythm by just painting them here and there. 


So I decided to see what it would be like to paint them daily.  One underlying motivation was that I wanted to transition to a practice of visual journaling, a chronicling of my life which I would feel at ease for my boys to sort through some day when I am gone... a bit of encrypted self-work.  Another is that I knew this fine motor work would exercise different parts of my brain and hands than my encaustic sculptural work, and would benefit from this strengthening.  The third reason is that I trusted that it would bring ongoing creative flow to my noggin, and perhaps become a bridge to my encaustic work. 


Thus far, I have experienced a wide range of feelings, beginning with joy.  It has been exciting to have a goal each morning awaiting at my desk, watercolors, brushes, and paper set out at the ready before bed,  providing motivation to begin early each morning.  It has also made me connect with the understanding of how my mama could have gotten up at 4:30a every day, before the barrage of kiddos and daily responsibility came to greet her.


 Quietude and solitude is something which I have been deeply craving, and this daily practice has helped pull me out of a bit of a rough spot.  


This sole feeling of joy shone for a few days before it was joined by a few other feelings... anxiety, uncertainty, resistance, and curiosity.  When I began reflecting on these emotions, I realized how predictable it is for them to arise when I go outside my norm and into new territory.  I am used to creating-- that part was only difficult in that it made me a bit afraid I would run out of juice, lol... but what was more anxiety-producing for me was the public sharing of them.  It is a huge jump for me to be posting daily, considering I had 4 Instagram posts in all of 2017 :).  I hope, perhaps, this will eventually enable me to become more comfortable with this aspect of sharing my artwork more widely.  That is not an easy part of growing my art practice, despite very much wanting and committing to share my art with others.  


It is interesting to confront those inner parts of myself that can be in conflict with one another over and over again (speaking of circles), and always allows for deeper processing of old patterns and beliefs.  Always, there is opportunity for growth and the changing of things which keep me feeling less free.  I am so grateful for the vehicle of art that gives me a looking-glass into which I can peer and learn about parts of myself that are not so easily seen, let alone, translated through words.  


And so I return to the joy I feel every day as I experience the palpable connection with others.  This is a gift that I was not expecting-- that these simple renderings that come out of my head, heart, and hands are seen and have meaning for others, and that the reflections shared back with me regarding what people perceive, feel, and think, continue the cycle that started simply with putting pigmented brush to paper.  The circle grows!  


I am grateful to watch this circle widen and deepen, privileged to glimpse into the creative part in each of you. And I am happy to compile a recap in my blog for those who connect with me here in this space (if you would like to see the reflections I post along with each circle, please find me on FB or Instagram, in my links, above).  Please subscribe to my blog (click subscribe link, below) if you have not yet done so.   It is wonderful to have ongoing relationship with you all.  Thank you for your offerings and encouragement...  you are deeply appreciated, as always.