I waited for spring recess, counting the days. The children would be off from school, and the painting studio would be closed. It would be deliciously empty. I would go in.
I had a project. My dream had become more and more pressing. I wanted to paint a painting as big as the studio, a painting that would cover the four walls from floor to ceiling and the door. I longed to be surrounded by my own creation, to be totally absorbed, to melt in it. I wanted to erase the line that separates creator and creation.
The studio, a small rectangular room maybe 10 by 20 feet, has all its walls covered by soft boards where children pin their paper. The room has been multicolored by hundreds of painters when their brushes touched the borders of their paintings, leaving traces of colors. It has no windows, expect for one very small opening against the ceiling. It has no door, either, or so it seems, because the door is covered just like the walls and when it is closed it seems to disappear. It is a sacred space. I was shocked one day to discover that 15 years earlier it had been a meat freezer in the back of a butcher shop.
Now it feels like a secret place, a womb, where I can abandon myself, dive into my feelings with no fear or pressure from the world outside, as if it miraculously dissolved.
Empty and silent, the studio is pulling me into its vortex of creation. Feverishly I cover the walls from top to bottom with very large sheets of paper. I am getting ready to indulge in creation, to dive body and soul into its core, ready to answer the call of the mysterious unknown. I am going to paint the whole space around myself, to fill every inch of it with color and form.
I start to work on the right side and move from right to left, using ladder and stools, watching the images and colors reveal themselves under my passionate brush stroke. I have no plan. The miracle of spontaneity slips into the room and takes hold of me, guiding me. Exotic plants, multicolored birds, people of all colors, spirits are born, dancing with light and rhythm. My hand moves on its own. I watch with delight the fulfillment of my dream.
I paint for many days from morning till night, all by myself, inside my own painting. I arrive just after dawn. It is always dark when I leave. I walk three blocks to the metro station, amazed at the world outside, mesmerized by Paris and its crowds of tired workers going back home. The activity, the noise, the expressions on the faces fascinate me as the train carries me away, back to Charenton sur Seine, my home, where my young son is waiting for me. I know I won’t have strength left or the desire to eat. I will just take my baby to bed with me and we will cuddle. I will wrap my arms around him, his feet touching my folded knees, and our breath will mix. He will feel completely enveloped by me, relax, and then gently fall asleep.
Now it is time to put the last stroke on the painting, I let myself slide all the way in it. I feel its full embrace. I stand in the most intimate fashion, in the closest way possible, at the center of my own passion. I am ecstatic. God’s beauty fills me, my soul is full. Hidden in Paris, in a former meat freezer, I feel the greatest, the fullest lover’s embrace.
That night as I walk out of the studio, my soul is drunk. I am transparent. The whole world could pass through me without touching me. Only an old instinct brings me home.
The next morning, pulled like a magnet I have to go back. I slowly and carefully open the door to the studio, holding my breath. The world of my painting is still standing in a vortex of energy. Joy and gratefulness burst in me. I softly walk to the center of the room, and suddenly I hear its heartbeat….The heartbeat of creation…
I stay there and listen. I do not know how much time has elapsed. But at a certain point I wake back to the world and know that the next step is to take down the painting this very day and free the studio for the next painters.
Slowly, with great respect, I disassemble the immense painting and stack the sheets. The painting disappears, one piece at a time, eaten by the powerful force of the void. Creation breathes in and out, comes and goes.
Nobody has seen my painting. I never looked at it again. Done for its own glory, its gift is still in me. Creation does not need anything added to , no reward, no approval, no praise. Creation is a moment filled with spirit, a moment when the soul reaches far and brings back God’s heart. Done for its own sake, it is free.
Life is movement, creation only a response. The pulse of existence goes on. In and out. No resistance. Creativity fills the moment. In and out. It is as sacred to take my work down as it is to let it unfold. In and out.