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Coming and Going Right Now

October 23, 2020 2:18 pm

I am a time traveler. I put down a stroke of color, and I remember something from yesterday. I make a mark, and I see a glimpse of tomorrow. I sit in the present, and I notice “Right Now” with gratitude and peace mixed with sorrow and a splattering of anxiety. I am in the past, present, and future all at once, and my canvas shows it all.

Capturing and transforming the tension and disquieting of the “In Between” isn’t something you can just set out to do. Sometimes, as an artist, you just grab it: almost by accident. The canvas breathes. It’s alive. Its face shows lines of age and, like a time machine, takes you forward and backward in space as you study it. It’s like seeing a friend you haven’t seen for a long time. You notice new lines etched into their face and see time passing, you have flashbacks of things long gone by, and you savor their presence in the “Right Now” with the choice to be present and treasure the moment. You acknowledge the bubbling anxiety you have about the future of your friendship, but you do so gently. You realize that you are in the throes of a liminal experience. How you navigate such experiences can be transformed through creative process. Art makers can grab and transform such liminal experiences.

Liminality can be disquieting, but when Where You Have Been, Where You Are, and Where You Are Going can peacefully coexist the disquieting eases. Reflecting on the past can be painful, waiting for “What’s Next” can be anxiety producing, and seeing glimpses of the future can make it hard for us to sit in the moment. Pushing these feelings away will only make your present reality more disorienting and difficult. If you can, without fighting it, come and go between “Yesterday” and “Tomorrow” while sitting in the “Right Now,” liminal moments can become our friend. While we wait to cross the threshold into tomorrow, what we remember about yesterday and what we understand in the present moment will prepare us for a “What’s Next” that’s richer, deeper, and more profound.

The piece you see below isn’t the best piece of art ever, but it captures something about time and liminality. You can almost feel time is shifting and warping. Like a dream, it calls you to remember bits and pieces of something. You strain to remember those bits and pieces as they keep slipping further and further away. The canvas puts you on the edge of remembering: reaching for something elusive. You notice time is passing quickly and this makes you uneasy about the present moment. This is the tension and disquieting you feel in a liminal space. A canvas can be a place where one can explore the challenges of time and space, sort them out, and make sense of them. Liminal space art can help the artist and the viewer wait on the threshold of “Tomorrow” from a place of understanding and accepting. It doesn’t have to be a battle if you have the right expressive tools.

I am not great at sitting still, and its my natural inclination is to skip the present moment and jump right into “What’s Next.” I recognize that it’s healthier to see the present moment as a gift and treasure what it has to offer. Feeling the sun on your face, noticing the beauty in the changing season, or first embracing a new understanding that enriches your journey are gifts of the “Right Now.” Painting helps me do such things. Painting calms me, helps me process life’s liminal transitions, and gives me the tools I need to wait patiently in the present moment. Art is my friend in my liminal places and spaces.

Be a time traveler with me. With the sweep of a brush and a stroke of color, time can be explored, understood, and momentarily nailed down for examination. While others might hurry forward to “What’s Next,” rush from the past, and fight the present moment, art makers like us can travel more peacefully. We can “Come and Go Right Now” with ease others might not enjoy. It’s all possible through our creative process.

Pick back up that old creative pursuit you put down, or dive into your present creative project with new energy. Try creating something new. Explore a new artistic pursuit and pursue it with a passion. Engage with other art makers and enjoy what you can learn from other creatives. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying being stuck in “Right Now” because your “Right Now” is pretty darn good. Enjoy the trips back in time where you discover joy beside grief for what once was. Be excited when you get a peek at “What’s Next” for you. Liminal space artists can do all these things simultaneously because of the secrets they learn while creating and remaining open to their process. “Coming and Going Right Now” is your friend as time ticks on. You don’t have to be afraid of what was, what is, and what will be. Your canvas will speak peace to you as you embrace your process in any time, place, or space.

Coming and Going Right Now, 2020

This is a colorful, abstract painting about joy.