I am not a painter, and I had no idea this picture was being taken.
a few nights ago I was unexpectedly hurled into an intense moment of unadulterated creative expression that in many ways felt like doing yoga. Here's what happened...
Art Battle Toronto was created by Simon Plashkes and Chris Pemberton, and is a live art competition where artists have 25 minutes to paint a complete piece in front of a live audience who then votes for their favorite. Each round includes veritable artists, and a guest audience member - which is where I came in. 5 minutes after I dropped my ticket stub in the hat and promptly forgetting about it, my name was drawn, and I was summoned to the easels.
Sweating under the bright lights, I found myself face to face with a blank canvas, armed with a heavy palate of thick vibrant acrylic paint, wondering, "what the hell am I going to paint!?"
No time to decide, the buzzer goes off, and the games begin! I set aside my train of thought, my nervous brain filled with doubt and judgment, because there is no time or need for stories about can and can't, what and why: I pick up the palette knife, exhale, and let the paint fly.
Like sinking deep into a long pigeon pose, 25 minutes could have been 25 hours. As I dropped deeper into the experience of painting; the colors textures, sensations in my arms and shoulders, the magic of instantaneous, intuitive aesthetic judgments, I truly felt like I was practicing yoga, and very viscerally realized that in these two practices, so much of my inner-landscape appeared exactly the same.
The buzzer rings, the game is done, and I feel elated and energized: like the flooding sensation of free-flowing prana and unraveled emotions when you pull yourself from the inner life of a pose and feel it's effect. My painting was done. I didn't care how it looked, just like a yoga pose, it was all about how it felt, during, and after.
Later, my soon to be art patron approached me to discuss my spontaneous creation. instead of asking me about how I chose to paint what I did, he asked, (just like a teacher) "How did you feel?"
"Nervous, charged, liberated, fearless, inadequate..." I replied. "Yes, he said, "I can see that."
This whole experience was a revelation of yogic and artistic ties, and deepened my understanding and curiosity of the links between these two practices.
My painting was an unfiltered manifestation of my immediate reality, like the blank canvass of a yoga pose splashed with the unique colors of time, place, person and experience.
This experience was an affirmation of the power of the uncensored pose. Like an unplanned painting, unmediated by thought or judgment, every yoga pose is free to become a work of art.