On April 6, 2014, I began Operation 365: one painting a day for one year. This video shows what nine months of painting every day looks like.
I own my own business, Art of Storytelling and coach novelists, memoir writers and script writers all over the world. My first novel Earth is being published in February 2015. With how busy I am, I ask myself often: Why did I choose to create one painting a day for an entire year?
First some history. In the ‘90s, I gave up journalism and a jet-setting European lifestyle to follow my soul’s calling to be a novelist and visual artist. To say this wasn’t easy would be an understatement. It was financially and emotionally scary, as well as exhausting and confusing. First I wrote fiction every day for years. Then about 12 years ago, I began a writing coaching business, the Art of Storytelling.
After a while, the success of the business seemed to be getting in the way of my own personal need to express, and it had to stop. It had taken me years to accept the fact that I was both a visual artist and a novelist. I even went to therapy for it, like there was something wrong with having gifts in two creative areas. Luckily my shrink wasn’t square, because she “gave me permission” to do both. It’s so funny the things we struggle needlessly over.
So, with coaching and novel writing, I found I could only find time to paint, if I wasn’t exhausted, on Sundays. It just wasn’t ok. I believe that we truly ARE what we do every day, and I was a visual artist, but I wasn’t doing visual art, well not enough of it anyway.
So, I had a dream. Do a painting every single day no matter what. Call it Operation 365. Now, between clients, between working with editors and designers to get my first novel published, I run into my goat shed/art studio, and sometimes with as little as 20 minutes to my name, I paint a painting. Every day. Every single day. Try it even for a week and you’ll begin to see what I’m up against here.
There were other reasons I started Op365. As a coach, I’m passionate about process. I profoundly believe that if you keep writing, you’ll get better, much better. You’re more gifted that you can even begin to imagine. I believe that the soul has depths the likes of which many of us only glimpse the edges of. So for me, painting every day was a way to knock on soul’s door and to be allowed entry into the mysterious places.
And finally, visual art aligns me. It’s this feeling of channeling beauty and grace, and this love energy travels through my body and out my hands. It accesses something bigger than me, something mysterious and epic, call it the muse, call it whatever you want, but when we align with our calling, it’s as if we step into clear, bright light and everything feels clean and pure and right with the world.
Visual art plays a key role in my first novel, Earth, to be published in February 2015 by Booktrope. Here, the protagonist Pearl sees for the first time paintings done by her best friend’s mother.
The paintings “glowed in dawn light. Light shot sparks in a cacophony of glimmerings. I couldn’t get Mrs. Paulson’s paintings out of my mind as I stared for whole minutes, transfixed by the liquid day. My own heart was the layers of rising sun streaming lines of light through the branches of the far-off tree line.”
The book details a rough childhood full of butchering, violence and fear on a small subsistence farm in the rural Midwest. The points of hope in the book, the light in the darkness, is the visual art, not just the paintings done by Mrs. Paulson, but also the art of her son, Jason, and even the fiddle playing of Pearl’s father. Here he plays Mississippi Sawyer as Pearl lies in the grass nearby and listens:
“From his strings, I felt the rivers he fished, the currents long and slow, and beneath, muddy sounds, cavernous. The pull of the current, the random meandering of muddy, scaly, ugly fish. The music was the story of the river…As he played, I found myself in the water, the moon between my fingers on the river’s surface, the water like molten silver…To the heavy music, I sunk deep until I was in the muddy bottom waters, swimming with fish as ancient as the land.”
We all have our callings, points of contact between this world and another world. Mine is writing and visual art. What are yours?
To read more about Earth, and the other novels in the Elemental Journey Series, and for more information on writing coaching, go to www.carolineallen.com.