I’m so grateful that I found my way to fluid art. I’m having more fun each time I start or continue a piece, and sometimes what comes through is simply beautiful.
I return to my art table again and again because of the beauty, flow, and magic available. And then I forget.
Reflections on finding flow at the art table
I can’t plan my way into flow. And I can’t force myself out of trying to plan. Human at play.
When I forget what’s really on offer, and start with a plan, I can count on three outcomes:
- I mess up, usually by going too far.
- I rarely get where I thought I was going anyway.
- Consolation prize: I always learn something.
I didn’t set out to create these two paintings as they are.
In fact, I set out to make something entirely different each time. (Once again, I had a plan.)
With the first one — Reflections — I started out using breath and air to move the paint. What resulted was okay, but I didn’t love the proportions. I tried to fix it and — as often happens — I went too far.
Something beckoned me to keep going anyway, something from a space beyond thought and planning. I reconnected to flow and got out of my head and into my body enough to catch inspiration.
I picked up different tools — my beads and chains — and started moving with the paint differently. This time I knew when to stop. I was entranced.
As Van Gogh said, “It’s so beautiful; I must show you how it looks.”
I showed it, it was perfect for a friend’s new office, and I was delighted to send it her way.
Then there’s Waterfall.
I thought I’d gone too far this time too. While I loved the blue pools and the lacy cells, I still thought it might be too garish.
Something beckoned me to keep going, something from that space before thought and planning.
I hung Waterfall on my studio wall (on probation). I thought I might paint over it. And then my housemate saw it, fell in love, and offered to buy it on the spot. (I didn’t tell her I was considering ditching it until afterwards.)
Reflection: On allowing myself to create from inspiration.
When I give myself — and what’s come through me — time to breathe a bit, my seeing of anything I’ve created can be seen differently. My seeing changes. Sometimes I’ll too hastily abandon a canvas I think went wrong. Sometimes I’ll stay in the flow and end up with something unexpectedly amazing.
I keep planning and I keep getting reminded that there’s a better way. Trying to replicate what happened with Reflections is getting me nowhere good. So ha ha. I get it. I can’t plan my way into flow. And I can’t force myself out of trying to plan. Human at work play here. And that’s okay.
Here’s what I’m seeing and beginning to understand:
Magic’s more likely to result when I’m upstream of the insecure and judge-y thinking that blocks my flow of creativity.
When I’m listening to the internal Committee in Charge of Convincing Me That I Suck (we all have one, right?), I’m hearing a persistent cacophony that tells me that everything I’ve ever made, whatever I’m making now, and anything I’ll ever contemplate making is shit.
How to get around this? Just do it anyway.
Make the art, say the words, create the thing.
It’s getting easier to find flow and get back upstream with practice. When I tune away from the incessant inner chatter and into flow — feet on the ground, moving in harmony with the paint and paper — crazy wonderful miraculous results are on offer.
Apparently there’s more fun to be had when I step out of my imagined safety zone, get on my feet, and get into the dance.
That’s why I’m creating an ecourse, so I can share this amazing journey with you. It’s called Fluid art: Dancing with flow, depth, and dimension and it’s coming soon!
And now, a culinary magic bonus for you today!
Kitchen witch lore: I’ve made a yummy discovery and I want to share it with you.
Now that I’ve discovered the cast-iron pan method, I may never oven-roast Brussels sprouts again.
The most delicious Brussels sprouts recipe ever.
It’s pretty easy too. I’ve made this three times in the last three days, still perfecting the timing and having a ton of yummy fun as I go.
When it comes to produce, I’m a seasonal local eater. I’ll probably eat Brussels sprouts most days from now until the asparagus comes in in early spring.
Although… Who knows when next year’s asparagus will arrive or if there’ll be a good local crop? 2020’s asparagus didn’t show up until late April (two months later than usual); I was annoying produce managers every time I went shopping. Being a committed locavore offers another way to see how changing conditions (pandemic, economy, etc.) impact food availability and create actual food deserts everywhere. The local growers are taking a big hit too. More than one small-batch local offering has disappeared.
I’m humbled by these changes. Finding it challenging to satisfy my food desires is definitely a first-world problem. I’ve got options and I’m eating. Of course, the food diva in me loves to cook with the freshest ingredients — and that’s a luxury problem. The same conditions that make it tough for me to source are responsible for the shortages and food deserts impacting marginalized communities everywhere. People are hungry. I’m grateful to be able to source fresh produce at all. I wish I could share my bounty more.
Okay that had to be said. Back to sharing this yummy preparation with you.
I was a die-hard Brussels sprouts roaster for years. I was famous for my glass pan full of crunchy beautiful sprouts; this was the dish I infallibly got asked to bring to dinners (in the before times).
Now? I may never roast Brussels sprouts again. Granted, the crunch high-heat roasting provides is wonderful. When fresh, they’re as satisfying as crispy French fries.
But then I tried this method and caramelization happened in a way I’ve never experienced before. Sorry, roasting pan, you’re on a break.
Seriously. I’ve made cast-iron Brussels sprouts five times in the past four days and they’re getting better all the time.
Caramelization power tips
The more I pay attention to these, the better the results:
- Get your pan hot and keep it sizzling. This is not the time for low and slow.
- Add the sprouts all at one time, arranged in one layer, with one cut side down in the fat.
- A few minutes of stillness is part of the magic. (Funny how that works.) Ignore your desire to stir; let them sizzle undisturbed for these crucial first minutes.(Of course I peek; that’s how I’m learning how long to go and how hot to have the pan.)
- Don’t be stingy with your fat. Even with a great finish on your pan, the undisturbed ten minutes require a slick surface so nothing sticks.
Step by step:
Start to finish, under 30 minutes.
- Brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved or quartered, enough to fit in pan in one layer
- A little more of your favorite fat than usual — I use duck fat which is my go-to for all sautéing
- Acid — I used pickled onion brine and a few pickled onions. You can use lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or…
- Seasonings — your favorite salt (I used pink mineral) and pepper (I used urfa biber)
Melt the fat and coat the pan. Once you’ve achieved a good sizzle, add the Brussels sprouts in one layer and let caramelize undisturbed for about ten minutes.
Go for a sizzling (but not burning) amount of heat — hot enough to get them browned and gorgeous. When they’re looking nearly done (you can peek), add your salt, pepper, and acid.
At this pointadd whatever other bits you’d like. Shiitake and maitake mushrooms are daily immune-boosting must-haves in my kitchen, and they marry really well. With the pan hot, and the initial caramelization done, mushrooms will cook down really quickly.
The only timing that matters is the first ten minutes. Once you get that beautiful caramelization down, and then experiment. Try shit. Play around.
I’m still developing my technique; who knows what I’ll add next?
What are your comfort foods this season? Let me know. Leave a comment.
And of course, don’t forget to sign up so I can tell you when the Fluid art: Dancing with flow, depth, and dimension e-course is ready.
Originally published at https://magnoliaswest.com.