Doubt as a parent, doubt about where to live, and doubt within the painting.
Doubt. It's an edifying emotion, building walls all around me, blocking out my surroundings. Meanwhile I actually do live in pretty special surroundings. I do have a wonderful partner, two healthy boys and a shed to paint in that I love. And yet still, the doubt.
Twenty years ago a phrase stood out from Paul Baker's book, 'Monks, Minstrels and Milkmen'. About doubt he wrote. "It was a measure of growth, inadvertent subtle stretching in the light, that these real, deep-rooted doubts caused no panic".
More often than not I experience panic alongside doubt. Until I practice with it. Then it's OK to have doubt. I can be with it, not push it away, nor wallow in it. But without the practice it blinds me to my surroundings. Holds me hostage to my own fears. So how do I practice with this? How do I paint from this place of doubt?
I acknowledge its presence. Where does doubt sit in my body? I let go the stories about the doubt, and the doubter (this is the hard bit), and find what lies beneath. Physical unease. Pain. Fear. Then I lean into the experience just as it is, with no other intention than to let it be fully present.
Opening my eyes and ears I hear bird song, cows mooing, the smell of wax, the ache of my body, a muscle spasm, shallow breathing and a spider on the floor. What is the reality here? I have my doubts.
Trying to stay with this present moment awareness... why? Because behind the doubt there is just this. Just the bird song. My eyes opened wider. My awareness delving deeper. Can something within that level of awareness be captured in the wax?
Can the process of painting in doubt, bring doubt to its core? At core, there appears to be nothing.... just this. All of this. When doubt is allowed it gives way to just being... I don't know where the doubting goes but it does. Of course it comes back, although sometimes with less panic attached.
This seems to be my life for now. And that is what I have to paint with. Just this doubt. Exactly here.