I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Marianne Patrevito’s reflection “Bits and Pieces.”
I love art and the creative process. I love playing with paint and shreds of paper forming something, anything that is expressive. I came to art in my middle time of life, when I was in dire need of a healing process. The years prior to this time, had been years of chaos, struggle and loss. It was around this time that I was introduced to Process Painting. Process Painting is an expressive form of painting, developed by Michele Cassou. It is not about product, but just about the process of putting color on paper. I attended an open workshop and something deep within me opened up and came alive. There was a spark in the core of my being, that said yes to this nurturing and nourishing practice. Putting color on paper soon felt as relaxing as taking a hot bath. I immersed myself into the waters of creating, that did not ask me to think, but to just put paint on paper. No subject matter, just me, the paper and my brush. “Lead with what comes up inside,” Debbie, our facilitator, would instruct. She guided us to follow the nudges within, inviting our spirits in this meditative dance with color, allowing the sway of our brushes to stir the creative juices within.
Connecting to this new process, I felt that a long-awaited thirst was just beginning to be quenched. I had always wanted to draw, paint, create, but seldom given the opportunity.
I was able to participate in that class for two years, and when it ended, I craved more of the creative life. I began doing Visual Journaling, which was good, but I yearned for a community that I could relate to and create with. It was then that I saw a class for collage. I was curious and something stirred within my being. I listened and soon another new path would be carved out on my creative journey, and it would change my world.
Laura, the facilitator, was quirky, easy going, funny, but also talented, creative and caring. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I belonged. We made papers, worked in sketchbooks, and dove into mixing, painting, cutting and gluing . It was a process that unleashed my inhibitions and allowed me another form of expression. The class days flew by, I felt as though I had found a new outlet for all that was swirling inside of me…and I had. How did I not know that this world of creativity would hold so much for me? Now I felt free. Free to create. I took many collage courses and some watercolor classes. Art became a part of my life. I formed kindred relationships within an art community, and we believed in one another with support and encouragement.
Not all has been positive….I ‘ve had years of being “stuck,” and the only activity happening in my creative space was cleaning and organizing. However, that, too, is a practice. One in which I embrace with both arms, now.
Recently, I was working on my latest piece and contemplating. I realized the reason I liked collage so much. The reason why it’s a spiritual practice for me. It’s the pieces of paper. The paint. The glue. It’s putting them all in order. An order that may tell a story. A story about my life path, with all the twists and turns, ups and downs. A story that draws another in, without words. Those papers in some way represent my life, all of my life. All the bits and pieces. Bits and pieces of hurt, pain, ugliness, yes, but also the good, the beautiful, and most importantly, the healing. I am being healed, bit by bit, piece by piece. Deep down healing. A healing that only my creative practice can touch. When I am creating, I am in a place, where the process is filling me up with its presence.
Creating collages, and paintings, for me has become like breathing. Creating has become my prayer practice. Julia Cameron likens it to a conversation with God. I identify. God speaks to me through creation, in the beautiful breathtaking canvas of nature. I speak to God through creating, whether it be painting, collage, writing, journaling, or photography. It is my “safe haven” of expression.
So often, when I sit at my art table, I don’t know what to do or what to work with. I close my eyes and sink into contemplation. Sometimes I just ask, “what is ready to come up and out?” It could be a rush of ideas, or nothing. Either way, it begins by picking up one tool, one paper, dipping a brush, or cutting out a magazine picture. Sometimes I stand up and dance, move or stretch. The creative prayer response is in the movement. It is in the action. Once I begin, the flow takes over and I am entwined in the rhythm of creating, with the higher power, who in my faith tradition, is God, and that feeds my spirit. They are practices that I live out in my daily life, as a Monk in the World.
Marianne Patrevito is a Spiritual Director, who enjoys visual art and the art of writing. Walking in nature, gardening and healthy cooking have been her interests for many years. Marianne resides in Hinsdale, Illinois, with her husband. She is also the mother of five adult children, one daughter in law and grandmother to two grandsons. She can be reached by email here.