We were given a canvas and told to close our eyes - now with a pencil start drawing. “What?” I thought. Suddenly I found myself in an internal struggle not to judge; not to think I had to make something cool, unique, creative. I fought the urge to worry about what the other collectors might think. What Pam might think. What was I doing here?
It was 5PM on Saturday and I sat in the creative workshop of contemporary artist, Pamela Sukhum. I was invited to an intimate gathering for the “Collector’s Art Party” to be followed by a General Reception. I received the invitation weeks ago, but hadn’t planned to attend until Pam called and asked if I was going to be there. Hmmm, would I be missed? I was honored by the personal invitation, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Truth is, it was outside of my comfort zone. Still, I said, “yes”…
The gallery and studio were all decked out in white drapes. Lights highlighted the new works on the walls and we were given a sheet on information about the new ‘feral’ pieces and the inspiration behind this new series. I was awed as usual by Pam’s phenomenal talent and fell in love with the new paintings - even more evolved, intense and complicated than her previous works. I know very little about art, but Pam’s work has always moved me.
So there we were a small group of 13 art novices in a room full of work by a world-renowned artist. “Close your eyes and draw.” So I did, a few lines here, a squiggle or two there… and the internal war raging inside me. Words of judgment and inadequacy filled my head, “I’m not creative. This won’t be good. What are you trying to make, there isn’t even a plan here.” I wanted to cover my ears and scream till the voices stopped!
Then Pam encouraged us to open the paints and grab some brushes. As I started to squeeze the acrylics onto the pallet, some thing magical started to happen. I got excited! This awesome artist was going to let me use these same paints and brushes that she uses. And there are no rules! This is better than grade school!
I chose a wide brush and painted the entire canvas yellow. There was an odd sense of accomplishment in having a yellow background, and the sensation of brushing the canvas with the smooth acrylic paints was rewarding and sensually intense. I had no idea this simple act would be so freeing.
There was a precocious young girl at our table – maybe 10-12 years old, the daughter of one of the participants. She was completely uninhibited and kept trying new brushes, new tools, new colors, new techniques and new textures. I wanted to be her.
I started painting lines and squiggles and shapes. Then it got more abstract and I started noticing the colors. I slowly let go of those judgmental voices and became part of the canvas. I felt it. Suddenly I stopped worrying about what color should go here and why wasn’t this line straight, and found myself making a large sweeping cobalt blue arc across the canvas and across some of the lines a squiggles. It just felt good. I kept painting, kept layering, kept adding color. I kept feeling.
Pam was very encouraging, as were the others around me. Somehow we expanded from a stuffy group of working adults brought together by our common appreciation of Pam’s work into a bunch of relaxed, child-like, sentient beings enjoying an experience not felt since second grade.
I learned a lot in those two hours without even trying. My lesson had nothing at all to do with art or color or technique. It had everything to do with letting go.
Pamela Sukhum is an artist, humanitarian, world traveler and entrepreneur. Pamela's paintings are featured in the most prominent fine art galleries in North America, both reigniting the fire of seasoned art connoisseurs, and sparking a new generation of fine art collectors. In 2007, she was awarded the Director’s Choice Award at ArtExpo New York. Her studio is located in downtown Minneapolis, with web presence at www.infinitevisionart.com.